The General Secretary of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Frances Akinjole, has given reasons for the protests by aviation workers.
Akinjole, in an interview,explained that the Aviation Bill passed by the National Assembly seeks to classify aviation workers as essential service providers, which affects the rights of the workers.
President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had in late August assented to eight bills recently passed by the National Assembly, including the Civil Aviation Act 2022.
He explained that the bill meant that workers could not hold protests, strikes or even congresses.
The NASS had passed the Civil Aviation Act 2022 in February to repeal the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
The passage of the Bill followed the consideration of a report by the Aviation Committee.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi, in his presentation, said the objective of the bill was to provide an effective legal and institutional framework for the regulation of civil aviation in Nigeria in line with the standards and recommended practices set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
He added that the legislation would, among other things, lay down rules for operations and division of responsibilities within the Nigerian civil aviation system to promote aviation safety.
He said, “The law, when passed, will apply to all persons holding a licence issued or endorsed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.”
He said, “It does not only mean that there can be no strike, it also means that there can be no activities that disrupt operations at any facility managed by the Nigerian Airports Authority. In fact, you cannot even hold a convention because if you want to hold a convention, you have to call your members to a meeting.
“They have even defined what strike means: even if you do your work, as long as you refuse to do it or sit down or do it slowly, you have committed an offence.
He pointed out that they had given the federal government a two-week ultimatum to reverse the bill, failing which they would embark on a full-scale industrial action.
The workers had gathered under the banners of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigerian Association Professionals, Amalgamated Unions of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical & Recreational Services Employees and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers to protest across the country on Monday.