On Monday, ground handlers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) began strike action, leaving a large number of foreign travelers detained at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
The protesting ground handlers are requesting higher wages and other welfare improvements. According to reports, NAHCO had gone to court and got an injunction prohibiting workers from going on strike.
A spokesperson from one of the unions at the airport, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATTSSSAN), acknowledged the strike to Channels Television but stated that the employees, not the union, initiated the industrial action.
In a statement issued last week, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) instructed its members to withdraw services from the airport.
“In the above regard, all NAHCO staff are hereby directed to withdraw services with effect from Monday 23, 2023. This action shall be definite until otherwise directed by the secretariats of the unions,” the notices read in part.
Attempts to reach a NAHCO official were unsuccessful as of press time.
Among the flights interrupted thus far by the industrial action are those of Royal Air Maroc, which were halted by protesting ground handlers at around 2:00 a.m. on Monday. Also disrupted were Qatar Airways’ operations.
NAHCO provides check-in, boarding, and ramp services for several foreign airlines, such as Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Carriers, Air France/KLM, Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Air, and various Nigerian airlines, notably Air Peace.
The industrial action coincides with a state visit by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is scheduled to visit Lagos on Monday and Tuesday to inaugurate several projects.