Yesterday, the Aviation Workers Union held a nonviolent demonstration at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, in opposition to the addition that would have made them essential service providers under the Aviation Bill being considered by the National Assembly.
The workers carried various placards with the slogans “Buhari don’t assent to anti-union aviation bill/act’, ‘our voices must be heard, protest is our right’, ‘when injustice becomes law resistance becomes a duty” as they marched in protest from the international terminal of the airport to the gate.
Speaking to reporters, the state council chairman of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Abuja, Comrade Dauda Nambol, said that the unconstitutional element introduced into the Aviation Bill was what spurred the protest.
Nambol said that by designating them as essential workers, they would be free from all of the measures they could take, including strikes, picketing, and lockouts, which he claimed were the weapons they used to fight for their rights under the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention.
He said, [quotation] “We are comrades and this is our right as workers. If we feel dissatisfied over any issue, we have the right to protest and we will not allow anybody take away that right.”
“We are calling on the president not to assent to that bill, because that bill is anti-labour and we will make sure we win that struggle.”[/quotation]
Nambol stated that they would give the government two weeks to remove the clause following the peaceful demonstration and that if they didn’t, they would be forced to utilize every tool at their disposal to assure the success of their battle.
[quotation] The controversial clause inserted into the bill stated: “All services, which facilitate and maintain the smooth, orderly and safe take-off, flight and landing of aircraft, embarkation and disembarkation and evacuation of passengers and cargo respectively in all aerodromes in Nigeria are hereby designated as essential services pursuant to the provisions of Section 11(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered).[/quotation]
He continued, [/quotation]“The minister may by regulations prohibit all or such class or classes of workers, officers and other employees or persons whether corporate or natural, engaged in the provision of services specified in subsection (1) of this section from taking part in a strike or other industrial action.
“The provisions of the Trade Disputes (essential Services) Act, Cap. T9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 shall apply to service in the Agency, facilities managed by the Agency and in the implementation of this Bill.
“There shall be no strikes, lock-outs, pickets, blockades, service disruptions, etc of any kind within all facilities managed by the Agency and where any labour dispute arises, such dispute shall be resolved by the Agency,”[/quotation]