Activities have been grounded at the Skycare Catering Services (ASL) in Lagos airport following the picketing of the company by the National Union of Air Transport Employees over the "slave conditions” of workers.

The action, led Qatar Airways, one of the clients of the catering service, to delay its Doha-bound flight due to its failure to secure onboard meals from the company.

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) on Wednesday said that workers of the company signed a bond with Skycare to look out for the welfare of staff in the organization.  

However, the management of the catering company reneged and said it couldn't belong to any airport union causing a breakdown in communication between both parties.

The union barricaded the entrance of the catering company and prevented staff and management of gaining access to the building, vowing to picket the company until the sacked workers were reinstated and other agreements adhered to. 

Ocheme Aba, the General Secretary of NUATE, told SaharaReporters the picketing was to liberate the workers from “bondage.”

Aba said some of the workers had signed an agreement with the union over three years ago but Skycare prevented its staff from joining the union.  

He said the union would continue with the picketing until the management rescinds its decision.

Aba said: “The company (ASL) said we are not the right people to unionize the workers. They said it should be the hotel union. The hotel union through the management went to the industrial court in Lagos, their case was thrown out. They then instigated the hotel union to go to another industrial court in Abuja, the case was also thrown out.

“We still wrote them so that we can formalize, but they don’t want to respond to us. They have been holding the workers there in slave-like conditions, they continue to maltreat them and the workers have been agitating. We have been asking the workers to be patient with us, but now, we can no longer continue with such an attitude.

“If the issue is not resolved, we will continue with the picketing. So far, the management has not responded to our demands.”

The union accused Skycare of employing some workers without employment letters, absence of terms of engagement or conditions of service, arbitrary terminations, victimization, and refusal to recognize a registered trade union.

The ASL has been going through tough times in recent times leading to its delisting by the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE).

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