TUC kicks against ban on aviation workers’ strike

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo

Oluwanifemi Ojo


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Trade Union

The Trade Union Congress has vowed not to yield to the Federal Government’s plan to stop aviation staff from industrial actions like strike.

According to The Punch, TUC, represented by the President, Festus Osifo, has said on Wednesday that the proposed plan of the government to ban industrial actions by aviation workers would threaten industrial unity, peace and harmony.

He added that the impact of the proposed ban will take its toll on the forthcoming election.
The TUC president said, “forceful implementation of this directive by the government will be met with stiff resistance that might lead to the breakdown of law and order in the country.”

The Federal Government had vowed to enforce the section of the Civil Aviation Act (2022), which would prevent aviation workers from embarking on flight-disrupting strikes.

This was stated on Wednesday by the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika following the apology offered by the Federal Government to the travellers affected by the aviation strike on Monday, January 23, 2023.

However, Osifo pointed out that the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, who made the announcement on behalf of the Buhari administration, should be aware that the aviation law cannot override the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Constitution and the fundamental rights of Nigerians to withhold their labour if they see it necessary.

He said, “This is unambiguously stated in the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and the Right to organize.
“Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) bans forced or compulsory labour which means no Nigerian citizen can be forced to work if he or she chooses not to work.”

The TUC head added that the government and those in charge of it should always try to address any concerns about welfare brought up by various unions and respect the terms of any collective agreement that it entered into.

“This is the only way strike can be averted and not by any surreptitious or clandestine moves or pronouncements,” he said adding that there is no sector whose services is not essential; “Is it health or Education?”
The president of the union also pointed out that section 40 of the constitution provides Nigerians with the right to unionisation.

The labour leader explained further that Section 40 of the Constitution also states that Nigerians have the fundamental right to unionisation.

In his words “If indeed the government listens, it would have listened to Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria members and the aviation staff’s long-standing demands rather than force them into a strike.

“If the government truly listens, it would not have allowed the universities teachers strike to drag on for eight months simply because it failed to honour an agreement it willfully entered into. And even after the strike was called off; it continues to withhold the unpaid salaries of the academics, which itself is provocative and unfair labour practice.”

“It is wishful thinking for the Federal Government to think it can trample on the rights of Nigerian workers,” he said.

Usifo emphasised that the organisation will vehemently oppose any attempt by the federal government to impose an unconstitutional prohibition on strikes.

“By this declaration, TUC is placing all its members on alert to be ready to carry out solidarity actions with striking workers in any sector if the government tries to criminalize such an action.

“The TUC assures ATTSSSAN members and aviation workers and indeed all the working people of our country of its solidarity and its readiness to side with them in all their legitimate disputes with government or employers in furtherance of their interests.”

The Punch reported that Osifo continued by saying that rather than inciting unneeded labour unrest, the Buhari administration should prioritise excellent governance, provide access to petroleum products, secure Nigerians from marauding bandits and hyperinflation, and allow for a peaceful transfer of power.

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