“They should please desist from this. It is wrong, inhuman, and not allowed. It is not permitted and we will not be permitting it any longer”
The federal government has reacted to the industrial action carried out by the staff of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) saying it will no longer tolerate strikes and riots in the aviation sector.
On Monday, flights at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), in Lagos state were disrupted due to a strike by the NAHCO staff members over salary increments.
The strike was later suspended after the management of NAHCO said it had commenced negotiations with its workers.
NAHCO provides ground handling (cargo/ramp), passenger, and other services to several international airlines including Air France/KLM, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Turkish Air.
Speaking with statehouse correspondents at the presidential villa, Abuja, Hadi Sirika, aviation minister, described the action as “wrong, inhuman” and against the law.
Sirika explained that the FAAN act prohibits strikes and riots in the aviation sector.
He apologised to the public and said the government would ensure that the law is enforced to prevent future occurrences.
“This is very important to the traveling public. First, we apologise to them, our teeming passengers in this difficult moment,” Sirika said.
“Secondly, this will not happen in the future by the grace of God. And the reason is simple; aviation is an essential service, the act has been assented to by Mr. President, so strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the land.
“Now that we have the act in place and assented to by Mr President and passed by the National Assembly, we will deal with it according to the law.
“We will ensure no essential service is being disrupted by anybody no matter how aggrieved. There are other channels of channeling issues when they arise but they are not permitted to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and is the law of the land now.
“I will give you an example, there was an airline that had to return to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that aircraft. Imagine somebody attending to a very serious issue or matter at hand or business or a student trying to catch up with an exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved some other person will die.
“Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the FAAN act, it’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon, in fact now, from today we will not allow that.”
He said the government was always willing to listen to any grievances, adding that there are procedures to address such.
“They should please desist from this. It is wrong, inhuman, and not allowed. It is not permitted and we will not be permitting it any longer,” he said.