—Declares industrial action illegal for essential services
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday, apologized to those making use of air transportation over the recent strike embarked upon by the National Union of Air Transport Employees and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, vowing that it will not happen again.
The apology came on the heels of the disruption of local and international flights for several hours as a result of the strike embarked upon by the aviation unions.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, described the action as wrong, inhuman and against the law, vowing that the enforcement of the law recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari has begun in earnest.
Sirika explained that the FAAN Act signed into law by the President last year prohibits industrial action and riots in the aviation sector.
He said: “This is very important to the travelling public. First, we apologize to them, our teeming passengers in this difficult moment.
“Secondly, this will not happen in the future by the grace of God. And the reason is simple, aviation is an essential service, the Act has been assented to by Mr President, so strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the land.
“Now that we have the Act in place and assented to by Mr President and passed by the National Assembly, we will deal with it according to the law.
“We will ensure no essential service is being disrupted by anybody no matter how aggrieved. There are other channels of channelling issues when they arise but they are not permitted to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and is by the law of the land now.
“I will give you an example, there was an airline that had to return to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that aircraft. Imagine somebody attending to a very serious issue or matter at hand or business or a student trying to catch up with an exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved some other person will die.
“Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the FAAN Act, it’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon, in fact now, from today we will not allow that.
“As a government, our ears are always open, the government is open to listening to any grievances and there are procedures for dealing with this kind of grievances. They should please desist from this, it is wrong, it is inhuman, it is not allowed, it is not permitted and we will not be permitted any longer.”
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