Aviation union rejects planned airport concessioning

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The Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) has maintained its opposition to the Federal Government’s proposed concessioning of four of the country’s airports.

Mr Samuel Wuyep, the Chairman, ATSSAN, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja Chapter, disclosed the union’s position in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Friday in Abuja.

Wuyep said that all aviation unions in the country were unanimous in their decision to reject the planned concessioning of the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt international airports by the government.

“There is no going back on concessioning; we are still against it and it is something we are not going to compromise.

“We are going to engage whoever wants to bring that particular policy into play because we have had previous experiences where some of the airports that were concessioned but were not remitting enough revenue to the Federal Government.

“As it is now, we have identified those previous concessions that failed.

“The airports have been there and a lot of work has been going on there.

“The Public Private Partnership (PPP) as is being suggested by the government to fast-track infrastructural development at the airports is not feasible because we all agree that this particular industry belongs to government and the government took the sole responsibility of financing it from the onset.

“There has never been a time the government gave a target to the industry to meet up and the industry could not meet up.

“So, government has no reason to decide at any given time that the industry should be concessioned.’’

ATSSAN leader said that the recent strike by the labour unions against Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), was a result of a concession that failed to meet expectations.

He said that the issues that led to the shutting down of operation at the Murtala Muhammed 2, were envisaged from the onset when the concession agreement was made.

“What is happening in Lagos is something we saw coming.

“The company concerned (Bi-Courtney) that acquired the Murtala Muhammed 2 terminal is saying that his workers should not participate in union activities, which contravened their fundamental human rights.

“You have the right to participate in associations in as much as the association is not going to be detrimental to the existing constitution of the Federal Republic.

“You are not supposed to be deprived from being a member of associations.

“The organized labour is a partner and you must move along with such a partner in order to advance the growth of the industry,’’ he said.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, recently told State House correspondents after a recent Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja hat the government was determined to concession the four airports as part of its aviation development roadmap.

“You will agree with me that this is not news, they have done so in the past.

“We are a democratic government and we recognise that it is their right to protests and what they are protesting is whether there will be job losses and labour issues.

“And we have been very consistent and we have been engaging them. This time, it will be very different.

“At a time the concessioning of some government assets started, we were not knowledgeable in what concession entails but today, we have the knowledge and it will be transparently done, with active participation of workers in both the delivery and the steering committees to drive this process.’’