The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has grounded the operations of Bristow Helicopters in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Eket over the helicopter the company’s alleged plan to relieve indigenous pilots and engineers of their appointments without compliance with the local content act.
NAAPE alleged that the company had declared 13 Nigerian engineers and 10 Nigerian pilots redundant.
The association further alleged that as it was holding talks with Bristow on the matter, the company began to backdate the redundancy of the affected staff.
“All this is happening because they (affected staff) were in the forefront of the battle to establish pay parity between Nigerian workers and their expatriate counterparts who hitherto were earning far more,” said NAAPE.
However, the management of Bristow Helicopters reacted to NAAPE’s action of calling its members to embark on an industrial action at its (Bristow’s) Lagos, Port Harcourt and Eket operational bases.
Bristow said in a statement issued in Lagos that while the matter is currently the subject of a mediation led by the federal ministry of labour between NAAPE and the helicopter company, the union disregarded “the ongoing mediation process by calling on its members to commence this action.”
“This action is coming at a time when the global oil and gas industry is facing severe challenges and the Nigerian economy is undergoing serious disruptions with a number of clients reducing aviation logistics support services in the country.
“As a result of our clients’ reduced operations and demand for aviation services, Bristow has reduced the number of its workforce. It has reduced the number of its expatriate pilots and engineers in Nigeria.
“We have also reached an amicable agreement with the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) representing our junior and senior staff.
“Over the downturn in the industry (12-18months), Bristow has released 118 expatriates (pilots and engineers) and 21 Nigerian nationals (pilots and engineers).
“Bristow has held several meetings with NAAPE and the Ministry of Labour to reach an agreement on the subject matter of the mediation, and proposals have been put to NAAPE for their consideration.
“Our focus remains on providing a safe and efficient service in Nigeria and we are committed to continuing open discussions with all stakeholders to reach an agreement through productive dialogue and feedback,” said the management.