Festus Keyamo blasts Labour over strike


The Federal Government on Thursday berated the organised Labour over the strike it declared in Imo State and its planned nationwide strike scheduled for November 14 because of the physical attack on the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, in Owerri, the state capital.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, SAN, admonished the NLC and the Trade Union Congress against politicising Ajero’s alleged maltreatment, warning that politics might destroy the labour movement in the country.

In protest against the assault on the labour leader during a protest against the Imo State Government on November 1, the organised Labour Thursday disrupted all Owerri-bound flights at the Lagos and Abuja airports and forced passengers to deplane.

The union leaders and their members picketed the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, disrupting the operations of the facility and leaving many passengers stranded.

 The unions had announced the action after their extraordinary National Executive Council meeting which was held in Abuja on Tuesday.

But angered by the development, Keyamo came down hard on the labour leaders, accusing them of being ‘’Labour Party hirelings.’’

 While appealing to the labour unions not to destroy themselves with involvement in politics, the minister maintained that the aviation ministry was not involved in the alleged maltreatment of the NLC leader.

Keyamo, who spoke at the opening of a retreat for the Minister, Permanent Secretary, Directors and Head of Agencies of the Aviation Ministry, in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, pointed out that the “Aviation (sector) was not involved at all; but their target is aviation.

 “Their retaliation is aviation. So, please, I want to tell them to leave us alone. Leave aviation alone. You cannot target aviation in trying to address your grievances.’’

 He noted with concern that the protest by the labour could affect foreigners coming into the country as well as citizens going about their normal businesses as, according to him, the protesters disrupted aviation activities by blocking the access road to the Abuja International Airport.

Keyamo, while claiming to be grounded in legal, civil society and labour matters declared that “it is not good for the image of the labour movement.

“I pray and I’m talking directly to them: Do not allow the Labour Party to destroy the labour movement. I repeat, do not allow the Labour Party and politics to destroy the labour movement.

 “Call your leadership to order. Don’t get sucked into politics. It will destroy the labour movement. They cannot be hirelings in the Labour Party and they used them at their will. That’s why you see that the labour movement does not control the policies of the Labour Party.”

 However, Keyamo disclosed that the aviation ministry had mobilised security agencies to disperse the protesters from the Abuja International Airport.

 He noted, “I, as aviation minister, will not allow that target on aviation. They should not target aviation. If they do that, I will fight back and they should not bring politics to aviation. I’m grounded in this. I have been with them all over the years but they cannot deceive me.

“What they are doing is politics. It’s not labour movement, it’s politics. You cannot use that platform to go and support a party different from my party when you’re fighting back. You say it’s labour movement. No, it’s not. You should be ready for the consequences if you play politics”.

 Keyamo condemned the alleged maltreatment of the NLC president, stressing that nobody should be manhandled.

During the picketing of the airports, the NLC, TUC, and the aviation unions compelled some airlines to deplane their passengers travelling to Owerri from Lagos and Abuja airports.

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