By Adekunle Williams/Solomon Asowata
Lagos – The Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has threatened to sue the Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd. (BASL), if it failed to reinstate its sacked 20 employees.
The union’s General Secretary, Mr Olayinka Abioye, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
Abioye alleged that the workers were sacked by BASL, operators of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA 2), Lagos, for indicating interest to belong to unions in the sector.
He said that all necessary trade union resolutions between the two parties were currently being utilised to ensure that they were reinstated by the company.
According to him, if this fails to actualise the desired result, the union may be compelled to institute a legal action against the company.
Bi-Courtney had in a statement signed its spokesman, Mr Steve Omolale, said that the threat by the union to disrupt operations at its terminal was “an act of lawlessness’’.
Abioye confirmed that the parties held a meeting on Tuesday to find an amicable settlement to the dispute, adding that Bi-Courtney was represented by its legal officer.
He said the company insisted that its board needed to approve the unionisation of the workers which was out rightly rejected by the union’s representatives.
Abioye told NAN that the response of the company to the issue would determine whether the union would shut down BASL operations.
He said: “The company’s workers who were sacked had already joined the union and the management was infuriated that they joined the union, so they sacked them.
“This is contrary to what the public might have heard in the media. They were sacked because they joined the union.
“In view of this, we are ready to take the issue to the highest level in Nigeria to get those sacked workers reinstated.”
Abioye said that all registered trade unions were to be compulsorily recognised by an employer in accordance with the Trade Union Act.
He said: “We do not need board to ratify government law, because it is compulsory for an employer to recognise trade union.
“Membership of trade union is voluntary and each worker is either free to join or not to join.
“It is important to note that no employer can harass, coerce, intimidate or punish any staff for expressing interest in joining or belonging to a union.’’
Omolale said that the sacked workers were those, who had either attained retirement age or were found not to be diligent in their duties.
He said that BASL have the right to continue to improve the quality of its staff.
“This was contrary to the unions’ allegation that their service was terminated because they threatened to join a union,’’ he said.
Omolale said that BASL would do everything within the laws of Nigeria to enforce its right to peaceful existence and operate its business without any interference from meddlesome interlopers. (NAN)