By Ignatius Okorocha
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called for the removal of some clauses inherent in six aviation bills designed to amend laws establishing aviation agencies in the country.
The NLC said the clauses as captured on the proposed amendments to the bills are inimical to international labour practices and aimed at scuttling industrial liberties.
President of NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba made the call, in Abuja on Tuesday, when he presented the position of NLC on the bills, before Senate Committee on Aviation.
Recall that the six bills which had passed public hearing in Senate includes:
Bill for an act to repeal the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Act 2003 and to enact the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Act to provide for regulation of Meteorology, Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology Act, Cap.N96 LFN, 2010 and to enact the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, to provide for its Organisation, Control.
Others are, Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act, Cap N90 LFN 2010 and to Enact the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act for the Purpose of Providing Effective Air Navigation Services in Nigeria.
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to enact the Civil Aviation Act for the Regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria.
A Biil for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Nigerian Safety investigation Bureau, for the Regulation, Prevention and Providing Effective Administration for Safety Investigation .
A Bill for an Act to repeal the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act, Cap F5 LFN 2010 and to Enact the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act to Provide for the effective management of Airports in Nigeria.
He said the concern of NLC was the promotion of national interest especially with regards to protecting the jobs of thousands of workers in the aviation sub sector and safequarding critical national assets from predatory private interests.
“It is also important to strongly register the voice of labour over attempts to use the current review of the Aviation acts to introduce obnoxious provisions that are inconsistent with the general practice of lawmaking.
“We are concerned that provisions that are solely domiciled in our national labour laws are being imported into the proposed amendment to the aviation acts under consideration.
“We caution that this is not only out of sync with global best practices especially as provided for by the core Conventions of the International Labour Organization(ILO) which Nigeria had signed up to more 60 years ago.
“If such obnoxious provisions could find their way into our aviation laws review in 2020, we wonder if we are making progress or beating backwards after sixty years as a Sovereign country.”
He said all provisions relating to the introduction of essential services into the six bills being considered for review especially section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act should be completely expunged .
According to him, airline business cannot be described by any stretch of thought as essential service.
“It would be nebulous, a double jeopardy, counter productive and a matter of conflict of interest to make list essential services under the Civil Aviation Act and to assign the powers of interpreting and assigning essential services to the Minister of Aviation.
On representation in the boards,he said the proposed amendment did not consider representation from the workers unions.
“It is on this premise that we make a strong demand for the representation of workers in the boards of the six aviation agencies.
“This is in furtherance of the need to protect, promote and defend the interest of Nigerian workers in this very important sector and to minimize occasions for industrial conflicts.”
Wabba also said the NLC was not in support of an interim boards in the agencies.
“The provision for interim boards in the bills of the aviation agencies is anathema to public good.
” A situation that allows the Minister of aviation with the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary and the head of each agency to directly superintend over the agencies as Board Chairman.
“Even for an interim period, completely defeats accountability and the doctrine of delegation of powers.
“Such a situation would make the minister acquire super powers, considering his other enormous powers under the various acts.”
He also said the NLC was against the suggestion to expunge “Authority” as nomenclature and replaced with the word “Administration” for the Federal Airport Ports Authority of Nigerian (FAAN).
“The truth is that most jurisdictions which are members of International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) presently retain Airports Authorities in USA, Canada, Kenya, Ghana, Netherlands, among other countries.
“There is, therefore, no particular reason for the ICAO to single out and badger Nigeria into removing ‘Authority from the name and nomenciature of FAAN.
“As a matter of fact, hiding under some nebulous ICAO rules to force down the change of the nomenclature of FAAN is suspicious and mischievous. ”
He said attempt to replace “Authority” with “Administration” could only suggest an attempt to remove the management of airports from government control.
Responding, Chairman of the Committee, Sen.Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi said the bills were still undergoing legislative inputs .
He said the issues raised by the unions were important, nothing that Senate would look into matters.
According to him some of his colleagues were in support of the issues raised, affirming that the National Assembly was for the interest of the people and not anti -people.
“We will look at the issues raised dispactionately,”Adeyemi said.