The President of United Labour Congress (ULC) Joe Ajaero has expressed deep fears over the planned concession of Nigerian airports, saying over 90 per cent of aviation workers may lose their jobs as the Federal Government intensifies efforts to privatise the aerodromes.
Ajaero made the disclosure during a protest organised by the leadership of the United Labour Congress, ULC and members of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) at the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) to express their displeasure towards the process and proposed concession plan of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airports.
Speaking at the rally, he warned the members of ANAP that they should not relent on their fight against the proposed airport concession by the government, emphasizing that previous concession arrangements carried out in the power sector, Nigeria Railway Corporation and Nitel were not fruitful.
Ajaero who said they have leant their lessons advised the workers to ensure that they disallow the plan or sit down and negotiate their conditions of service before the concession could take place.
“I came to solidarize with all of you on this challenge again. This is another challenge on the working people of Nigeria. A challenge of concessioning, the challenge of privatization, the challenge of management buy-back or POP, ROT or whatever name as may be proposed by the world Bank and IMF. If you have 500 workers nor; after concession only 50 people will remain here. Even those 50 people will be casual appointments”.
He said they should not rely on their pensions since pensioners in the country are suffering due to backlog of unpaid pension arrears.
Speaking further, Ajaero who confirmed that the concession plan currently adopted by the government is not a Nigerian model said “For somebody to ask you to go when you have not completed your service is bad. We fought for 50 % salary review before promotion. Concession cannot add anything to the workers, economy of Nigeria. It will only lead to job loss”
He said the government is bent on enforcing the concession plan because the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have asked them to do so”.
For the sector to function effectively, the labour leader said that there should be no interference in the affairs if the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and that the agency should be run commercially without interference.
He added “There should be transparency in the process. They told us lies when they wanted to privatize NEPA; the same with NRC and also the power sector. Those pushing for concession are government people; they will use stolen money to buy up the corporations”.
Narrating further, Ajaero said “Private sector is not Father Christmas. He is coming to make profit. Nitel was making money before privatization but government destroyed Nitel to bring up MTN and others that are swindling us now. They are telling us Nitel is not making profit”. Don’t be deceived with the name they call concession because the aim is the same thing which is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer”.
On previous concession arrangements, he noted that almost all of them have failed, giving instances of Aladja Steel Company, power sector amongst others.
“Aladja Steel Company concession has never worked anywhere, including the power sector which we fought against for 10 years.
The buyers are always the sellers. If you find out the buyers are not the sellers, call me bastard. For example, if the concessionairs are not the sellers, why are they choosing the viable airports such as Lagos, Port Harcourt Abuja and Kano which are the most viable ones”.
The protest organised primarily by ANAP was well attended by stakeholders in the aviation industry. The rally started with solidarity songs at the early hours of the day, when workers gathered at the Liberty Square near the Federal Airports Authority premises at the MMA in Lagos.