by Rachel Ogbu

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The acting General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Emma Ugboaja, has condemned the sacking of 655 workers by Aero Contractors calling it a provocation.

In a statement on Sunday, Ugboaja said that the dismissal of the workers on March 13, 2013, was a shock to the NLC.

The statement reads:

“We are surprised that despite huge opportunities provided by the existence of vibrant, well informed, matured and responsible trade unions in the aviation sector, the management of Aero Contractors decided to ignore all available industrial relations mechanisms by dismissing over 655 employees of the company and locked out the entire workforce since 13th March 2013.”

“The basic intention of the management is to ultimately circumscribe workers rights to belong to the unions as well as casualise the entire workforce.”

“These are totally unacceptable to us and we will do everything possible to defend the rights of the workers.”

“While we applaud the steps taken so far by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, which grounded the airline since safety cannot be guaranteed with an airline that has caused itself avoidable industrial crisis. All employees of airlines all over the world are key to security and safety of flights.”

“We call on the management of the airline to recall all those dismissed and reopen their offices immediately.”

“While we will not hesitate to take appropriate solidarity actions in defence of the workers should the management refuse to reverse its decisions, we urge the workers to continue to take all necessary actions, together with their unions, until the decisions are reversed.”

The Punch reports:

According to Ugboaja, the company did not exploit the opportunity offered by the existence of unions in the aviation sector, the National Union of Air Transport Employees and the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, to settle the dispute.

Ugboaja said the management of Aero Contractors had earlier approached the National Industrial Court to get an injunction to carry out “acts inimical” to the interest of the workers.

He accused the Aero management of attempts to limit workers right and to introduce casualisation as a policy.

Ugboaja, who called on the company to recall the dismissed workers, said the NLC would ensure that workers interests were defended at all costs.

He also advised the workers to be resolute in the quest to defend their rights and to join hands with the unions in the sector to prevail on the company to reverse the decision.

He commended the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority for the decision to shut down the operation of the company “because safety could not be guaranteed in an environment of crisis”.

He maintained that the employees had critical roles to play in the safety of airline operations.