Bristow Helicopters’ operations grounded for skewed labour practices towards Nigerian employees

*National President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Mr. Abednego Galadima (M in reflective yellow jacket) speaking during the industrial action at Bristow Group at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has shut down the operations the operations of Bristow Helicopters indefinitely because of the company’s labour practices which are skewed to Nigerian employees.

As early as 6am, the unionists who carried placards bearing inscriptions such as “racism in Bristow must stop’, ‘we say NO to forced labour in Bristow’, ‘stop abusing and violating our rights’, among others blocked the entrance to company’s premises at the general aviation terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Addressing journalists later, the national president of NAAPE, Mr. Abednego Galadima said “all our members have completely withdrawn their services” adding that all affiliates of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) “have, in solidarity, agreed to withdraw all services rendered by them to the Bristow Group, including supply of aviation fuel.”

“This situation of shut down of Bristow Group shall be indefinite until all the issues in contention have been equitably resolved,” Galadima stated.

He said the employment in the company is skewed towards Nigerian pilots and engineers.

He gave the expatriate-Nigerian employment ratios at the company’s operational bases as Escravos, 20:1 for both pilots and engineers; NAF Base 3:1 for pilots and 4:1 for engineers; Lagos, 3:1 for pilots and 7:1 for engineers and Eket, 2:1 for both pilots and engineers.

“This gross disequilibrium in favour of expatriates cannot by any stretch of imagination given any semblance of compliance with Nigerian’s expatriate policy document which requires that there shall be two Nigerian understudies for every expatriate position. Therefore, the least position acceptable to the law is ratio 1:2 in favour of Nigerians,” said Galadima.

The national president further stressed that the marginalization of Nigerians is unprecedented in the helicopter company

“In the Bristow Group 18 Nigerians engineers who obtained their diplomas and licenses over four years ago have remained without type-rating contrary to the subsisting conditions of service.

“Similarly, the fate of 13 other engineers who obtained their diplomas and licenses over one year ago remains in limbo.

“The management has, however, refused to designate and type-rate these engineers appropriately just to disable them from growing their career. This is a disingenuous way for the management to continue to hire expatriates under the guise of absence of local expertise.

“Also, the management continues to deny qualified national engineers promotion into senior positions while continually training expatriates to hold same positions in perpetuity.

“In the same vein, 10 national pilots who obtained their flying licenses from Florida over four years ago also remain in limbo. The management has refused, up till now, to designate them as first officers. If they did, the pilots could have become senior first officers by now.

“Recently, the management fired the training manager, Capt. George Santos (a national) and replaced him with Capt. Matt Newman, an expatriate.

“Capt. Santos had not been found wanting in any particular regard. And we are not oblivious of the fact that apart from Capt. George Santos, there were other Nigerians captains in Bristow adequately certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and with requisite experience to occupy the position. We wonder, therefore, the basis by which Bristow obtained an expatriate quota to bring in Matt Newman. We would rather believe that Newman is in the country illegally,” said Galadima.





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