By Chinelo Obogo
Passengers and airlines have been left stranded in the early hours of Tuesday morning after the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) barricaded the Murtala Muhammed airport (MMA2) terminal, Lagos over the sacking of 34 members of the union by Bi- Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) without following due process.
The union barricaded the entrance of the airport by 2am on Tuesday and a source said they will not leave until the issues surrounding the sack of the affected union members are addressed.
He said that all efforts to resolve the issues at several meetings proved in the past proved abortive as Bi- Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) was not ready to address the matter.
Presently, the source said that passengers are stranded as they cannot move in or out of the facility.
ATSSSAN had alleged that BASL, operators of MMA2, sacked 34 of its members illegally on Friday last week with “ordinary e-mails” sent to their different boxes with disregard to the rule of law after they were first sent on compulsory leave of absence for 10 days.
The Vice President and Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Emmanuel Jaja and Frances Akinjole, said during a press conference on Monday that most of those laid off had put in at least a decade into the job with the company.
Akinjole insisted that the action was to witch-hunt its members as its branch chairman, branch secretary, branch treasurer and branch women leader were all affected by the sack.
He said the action of the management contravened Section 20 of the Labour Act on engagement and disengagement of staff by any company in the country, maintaining that the union would kick severely against the act of the management.
According to Akinjole, since the terminal operators “grudgingly” accepted that its staff could join the unions, it had continued to intimidate its members in the company.
He explained that the union had on June 16, 2021 concluded the signing of the staff Conditions of Service (CoS) for its members in Bi-Courtney, after a prolonged negotiation with the management, which spanned about three years.
The union leader explained that after the execution of the CoS document, a female member of the union resigned her appointment with the BASL when she could no longer condone the intimidation, and presentation of a cheque for her terminal benefits, which she rejected, became an issue.
He explained that BASL management had used historical (year by year) computation to calculate her exit pay instead of the expected last salary, lamenting that the rejected cheque denied the beneficiary to the tune of about N3,000,000.00.
He maintained that Section 1.12 of the Conditions of Service provides two months’ basic salary per year to be paid to any worker who resigns his or her appointment.
Akinjole said over the weekend, the BASL management called out 37 names, out of which were 34 of its members. He said the 37 staff were issued forced 10 days “leave of absence”, with a guarantee that all their entitlements would not be tampered with.
As at the time of filing this report, BASL has not made any official statement.
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