Tribune reported thick presence of security operatives at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos following the earlier threat by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and industry unions to picket some airlines over casualization and unionism yesterday created tension at the airport.
As early as 7.00am, Thursday October 5, the security personnel drawn from the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Aviation Security (AVSEC) were already stationed at different strategic locations at the airport to prevent a possible breakdown of law and order during the rally carried out by the unions.
While the NSCDC officials manned the entrance of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the local airport, officials of Nigeria Police with their Hilux vehicles surveyed the environment.
While the rally lasted, there was, however, no disruption to flight operations of any of the airline targeted for picketing especially Air Peace, which operates from the terminal.
Passengers and other users of the airport were seen going about their duties without any form of harassment from the unions or the security agencies at the airport, but the unions insisted that they were not at the terminal to picket the airline, rather sensitize the workers of their rights to join the unions of their choice.
Speaking at the rally venue, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), expressed surprise at the invitation of security agencies outside the airport command by Air Peace management.
He, however, said that the presence of the security operatives would not deter the unions from carrying out its sensitisation exercise of the workers of the airlines, stressing that NLC and the House of Representatives were already making enquiries about organizations that refused to allow its staff to join any of the unions or still engage in casualisation of workers.
Abioye declared that the unions would before the end of next month, November, carry its sensitization campaigns to other airlines that operate at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos.
The airlines according to him are Med-View, FirstNation and Azman.
His words: “I want to believe that Air Peace has some skeletons in its cupboard because there is no reason why extra security should be added to what the Airport Command has and we have been saying this, it is inappropriate and unnecessary for an employer of labour in our sector to take the step the airline has taken.
“We have a Commissioner of Police seated in the airport and there are responsible police within the airport. These are police officers who have been dealing with the unions for more than 20 years and we are a very responsible body, even when we want to embark on industrial actions we write officially to the Commissioner’s office who disseminates our letters to all the security outposts for numbering and as you can see the police from the airport are here.
“The NLC and the House of Representatives have written to us asking us to give them names of companies within the aviation sector and airlines where there is casualization of workers or those organizations that prevent their workers from joining the unions.
“We have complied with that directive, we have supplied names and I tell you before the end of November a lot of things will happen here.”
However, Mr. Chris Iwarah, the spokesman of Air Peace, confirmed that the airline sought the assistance of security agencies and Federal Government to ensure that its operations were not disrupted as threatened by the unions a few days ago.
Iwarah explained that the management lodged a complaint to the appropriate agencies including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), stressing that such threat should not be taken lightly by any lawful organization.
“When people issued threats of disrupting our services, I think it is right for us to inform the appropriate security agencies, Federal Government and FAAN that is the airport manager. We sought for their intervention to ensure that our operations were not disrupted in any way. We thank God, there was no breakdown of law and order at the airport today (yesterday). I think that should be commended.”