Pilots’ union gives Bristow, Air Peace two weeks to recall sacked workers •Threatens to withdraw services from all airlines

Posted by News Express | 5 August 2020 | 741 times

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By CHINELO OBOGO, Lagos

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has threatened to withdraw the services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all airlines if those whose appointments were recently terminated by Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters are not recalled.

At a news conference in Lagos on Wednesday, August 5, the national president of NAAPE, Mr Abednego Galadima said the recent sack of pilots and engineers by Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters is a ‘flagrant disregard of extant labour and trade union laws of the workplace under the pretense of COVID-19 pandemic.’

The NAAPE president stated that if the call is not heeded in two weeks, they would be left with no option but to withdraw the services of pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers across all airlines and said the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should ground their operations as safety would no longer be guaranteed.

Mr Galadinma said its members were subjected under duress to sign new terms of conditions of employment or be fired and their salaries cut without recourse to the statues governing industrial relations in the country.

‘Airline operators have continued to run their business without negotiated conditions of service which is a requirement of our labour and trade union laws and also in keeping with international best practices.

‘Without negotiated conditions of service, our members have become exposed to the whims and caprices of the employers in the industry enthroning a reign of arbitrariness and impunity in the conduct of employee relations within the industry.’

He said that this must be nipped in the bud before it becomes a greater threat to the survival of the industry, adding that it is capable of unsettling the pilots and engineers which could lead to human errors in operations.

The NAAPE president called on all concerned arms of government and agencies to immediately call Nigerian airline operators to order and ensure they revert salaries to pre COVID-19 levels.

He discountenanced Bristow’s statement which indicated that the termination of their 100 pilots and engineers would affect both Nigerians and expatriates stating that it was just a ploy to get rid of Nigerians.

‘To say the 100 pilots and engineers are not only our members is unsubstantiated and we do not know this because the management did not engage us.

‘Operators especially Bristow Helicopters have rendered our members redundant despite assurances by government of support for their businesses in return for operators not laying off staff.

‘These operators are already running on lean manpower with disproportionate number being expatriates yet, without regards to our expatriates and local content laws and executive order (5) they gave gone ahead to lay off staff under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic.

‘They cannot be using COVID-19 as an excuse because the ceasation of flight operations did not affect essential services like the oil and gas and Bristow and Caverton were operating during the lockdown. In fact you’d recall that our members were held by the Rivers State Government during the lockdown, so how can they be using COVID-19 as an excuse.

‘It is on record that Bristow Helicopters operated throughout the lockdown supporting oil and gas operations with government approval and guarantees service contracts in the same national interest but are now using COVID-19 to force redundancy on our members,’ Galadima said.

On Tuesday, August 4, Bristow announced the sack of over 100 pilots and engineers (both nationals and expatriates) over the next couple of weeks.

The airline said its decision is based on the impact of CCOVID-19 on the aviation industry, stating that its business has been affected adversely and would use the period to now restructure all aspects of its business model.

The management of Air Peace also confirmed the termination of pilots in its employ, saying it had to make the painful decision due to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations and finances.

There were reports that Nigeria’s largest carrier terminated the employment of 69 of its pilots and other workers in its employ but the airline said the decision was taken for the greater good of the company and its almost 3000 workforce adding the company could not continue to fulfil its financial obligations to its staff, external vendors, and maintenance organisations, hence the decision to restructure its entire operations. (Daily Sun)


Source: News Express

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