By Dipo Olowookere
Business activities at an in-flight catering company operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Newrest Aviation Services Limited, were on Tuesday disrupted by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and one of its affiliate bodies, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).
The two unions prevented access into the company’s premises because the management allegedly said employees of the firm should not join a certain trade association, NUATE, but were free to belong to the National Union of Hotels and Personnel Service Workers (NUHPSW).
During the picketing yesterday, the unions described the action of the firm’s management as anti-worker, emphasising that under the Nigerian law, employees were free to belong to any group they desire. They further described it as an injustice to the employees.
Speaking during the exercise, Chairman of the Lagos chapter of NLC, Ms Funmilayo Sessi, stated that, “The workers and the unions have been on this course for the past three years, but the management remain insensitive to the plights of its workers.
“The action of the company is anti-workers, because the environment where the workers are working is not even conducive for them to perform their work effectively.
“As a worker in a company, it is stated in the Nigeria Constitution 1999, Section 40 as amended, that there should be freedom of association.
“The workers say they want to join NUATE since the company is licenced by NCAA to cater for in-flight catering service of passengers which is synonymous with the trade they are doing.
“However, the company is insisting that they must join the National Union of Hotels and Personnel Service Workers which is against the Labour laws of our land.”
It was learned that the Industrial Court had ruled that workers of the company were at liberty to join any trade organisation of their choice, but the management allegedly refused, insisting they must join NUHPSW and not NUATE. Both trade bodies belong to the NLC.
During the disruption of activities at Newrest ASL on Tuesday, some of the workers carried placards with various inscriptions such as” “Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution Must Be Obeyed”; “Workers have right to the union of their choice’’, and “No procedural agreement with NUATE, no work, NUATE is our chosen union”, “No to labour slavery; ” No to casualisation; No to intimidation; No to victimisation of workers at Newrest ASL; “Unjustly termination of workers must be recalled”.
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