The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and all its affiliate bodies in the aviation industry Monday grounded activities at Bristow Helicopters over protracted labour issues.
The union leaders and their members blocked the exit and entrance gates of the company with their vehicles to prevent any staff or visitors from gaining entrance into the company headquarters.
Workers were also denied access into the company as aggrieved labour leaders sang solidarity songs and played loud music from their loud speakers to draw attention to their activities in the Bristow company.
The management of Bristow Helicopters however described the unions’ action as ‘Illegal’ and rejected accusation of any sharp practice regarding bonding of pilots, stressing that the pegged ATPL reimbursement cost is in line with the costs presented to the company by individuals seeking reimbursement.
The airline through its media consultant, Adeola Olanrewaju said Bristow complied with all relevant laws and procedures and the exit of any employees will be in accordance with such laws and procedures.
According to him, “The implementation of the engineering matrix is in line with the 2019 Agreement. NAAPE is now demanding that Bristow ‘shorten’ the current engineering matrix from fifteen (15) years to ten (10) years, which is contrary to the 2019 Agreement.
“Given the far-reaching implications this has for experience and safety levels within our operations, we have offered to bring in independent subject matter experts to provide unbiased and professional advice regarding NAAPE’s demands.
“NAAPE is yet to accept this proposal. Safety underpins everything Bristow does and under no circumstances shall Bristow compromise its standards or the safety of its operations”, he added.
He explained that Bristow has not and will not be in the practice of “jettisoning” legally binding agreements, noting that each base of operation has its peculiarities.
“For the particular base in question, Bristow was unable to run a two-pattern shift system due to factors outside of Bristow’s control. An agreement was reached with NAAPE where their members will run extended shifts and in turn get compensated for the extra hours worked”.
Addressing the members, spokesman for NAAPE, Frank Igwe said the union whose members are alleged to be victimized by the Bristow Management said all they want was for the Bristow Management to address the disparity in remuneration of the Nigerian pilots and engineers and the expatriates counterparts.
He also emphasized that the Management of the company should deemed fit to leave up to its promise of engaging cadet pilots and engineer trainees whom they asked to acquire certain qualifications before employment which they had acquired but they have refused to do the needful.
According to him, the suspended Conditions of Service CoS, negotiation which the Management was shying away from had to be resumed among other welfare of staff of the company especially the Nigerians.
Chairperson, NLC Lagos State, Agnes Funmi Sessi said the union would no longer tolerate any company taking Nigerians for a ride, adding that any company that hide under the Covid-19 to enslave Nigerians working for them would be dealt with in the labour sense.
“We are battle ready, we want to state it clearly that the era of impunity for any Management of any company or any place to hide behind Covid-19 pandemic, to unleash terror and to unleash unwholesome anti-labour practices against its workers, we are not going to condone that.”