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Labour Strike: Aviation, oil unions threaten to shut airports, others

Workers in the oil, gas and aviation sectors on Sunday vowed to join the nationwide industrial action on Tuesday.

According to the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the strike will shut down Nigeria’s airspace and ground the oil sector.

The President, ATSSSAN, Illitrus Ahmadu, told our correspondent that all the unions in the aviation sector were in support of the strike, saying they had a meeting recently where they all agreed to join the industrial action.

He said, “The four major unions in the aviation sector were at a meeting in Lagos where strategies were perfected towards the strike and we are affiliated to the labour centres and once there is a directive for us to embark on strike, we are under obligation to comply.

“So our status now is that of compliance, until there is a contrary directive from our trade centres. Therefore simply put, all the aviation unions are to join the strike in the event labour and the government are unable to resolve the issues.”

Ahmadu added, “However, if there is any information to the contrary, the labour centres will let us know. You are aware that there is an issue of whether the government got an injunction from the National Industrial Court restraining labour from embarking on the strike.

“What we were informed as of Friday was that labour had not been served and as a result we should discountenance anything about the injunction. But if labour is served and we are asked to stand down, then we will stand down. That is our position.”

On oil workers’ position, the National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Fortune Obi, stated that the union was an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress and would abide by the dictates of the TUC on the proposed strike.

He said, “PENGASSAN is an affiliate of the TUC and the reality is that the Central Working Committee of PENGASSAN has not met to look at the issue holistically. However, as an affiliate, we must abide by the decision of our centre.

“TUC, NLC and ULC are the three labour centres in Nigeria. We are an affiliate to TUC and whatever agreement is reached by the congress, we have to abide by it. But before PENGASSAN will go on total shutdown, we would have looked at the issues. It is also important to state that PENGASSAN is not against minimum wage increase.”

Obi added, “The fact, however, is that we work in a very critical and safety-conscious environment where we consider all our actions before we take any action that will impact on processes.

“Our industry is a very critical one and we have to look at how to manage the situation so that if, for instance, the government agrees to the demands and the strike is called off, say in the early hours of 6am, how then do we manage our production and projects?”

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