By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja, Aug. 7, 2020 The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the management of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to reinstate all the sacked workers within two weeks.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja, while condemning the recent sack of 100 Pilots by Air Peace, 69 Pilots by Bristow Helicopters.
Wabba said that the Congress also rejected sack of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) executives working with the Turkish Air.
“We call on the management of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to reinstate all the sacked workers within two weeks.
“As agreed between labour and Employers’ Association, social dialogue should be used to resolve industrial concerns instead of the current resort to unilateralism.
“We will not hesitate to mobilise the weight of the entire Nigerian workforce to the premises of Turkish Air, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters if our demands are not met,” he said.
The NLC President said that the sack was traumatic for workers who were still reeling from psychological and socio-economic difficulties imposed by the recent lockdown measures.
He said that the sack of Air Turkish, Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters workers was “highly insensitive, callous, and unjust’’.
Waba said that the unilateral sack of executive members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) working with Turkish Airline was particularly distressing.
“These workers were sacked for fighting for the rights of Nigerian workers in Turkish Air. This is very reprehensible.
“We wish to remind Turkish Air that unionised workers cannot be punished or sacked for participating in trade union activities.
“This action is aimed at frustrating unionisation in Turkish Air and to enslave Nigerians working with Turkish Air,” he said.
According to him, the anti-labour practices in Turkish Air constitute fundamental infractions on the Constitution and labour laws and also a gross disrespect to Nigeria.
He said that Section 40 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of association including the right to join and participate in the activities of trade unions.
“Furthermore Section 12 sub section 14 of Nigeria’s Trade Union (Amendment) Act 2005 provides for voluntary membership of trade unions.
“It also stipulates that no worker should be victimised for joining a trade union or participating in the activities of a trade union.
“We posit that the sack of NUATE executives working with Turkish Air violates their human and trade union rights,” he said.
Wabba however, said that it was unfortunate that the management of Air Peace had exploited the atmosphere of industrial tyranny in the company.
“This had forbidden workers from joining trade unions to strike the fatal blow on the livelihood and career of the sacked workers,” NLC leader said.
He warned that the absence of unions in Air Peace would not stop NLC from fighting for the rights of the sacked workers.
Wabba said that the congress would fight for the reinstatement of the sacked workers and for workers’ unionisation in Air Peace.
“We deplore the offering of poor workers as the sacrificial lambs by unscrupulous business owners.
“During the good times, workers were the hands that created the profit and wealth. During bad times, we expect businesses to repay the faith and commitment of the workforce.
“As was done to the financial sector, we urge government to immediately release palliative support to the aviation industry.
“Clearly, we have a bumpy road ahead of us as the nation and the world recovers from the fallout of COVID-19,’’ he said.
The NLC president said that workers were ready to play their part towards the restoration of full productivity and industrial normalcy.
He said that this would only be achieved in an atmosphere of mutual respect and sensitivity.
“We also call on all workers to understand that these are dreary times. Workers must take the issue of the defense of their rights seriously.
“Workers should insist on their rights to join unions. This is a safety valve. No employer is allowed by our laws to intimidate workers out of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to join trade unions,’’ Wabba said