The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) barricaded offices of Bristow Helicopters in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Eket in protest of welfare and alleged plan to sack more workers. This was after the members staged a protest march that grounded operations of the airline. The protest has caused the airline and the union to air their viewpoints on the matter. This is what we know about the matter thus far.
- Bristow says it has experienced a decline in business since the plunge in the price of crude oil hit the oil and gas sector. This is because the major clients of the company are from the oil and gas sector. This has necessitated the release of several of its staff in order to maintain profitability and avoid redundancy.
- Bristow claims that it has treated Nigerians fairly as it ensured that more foreigners were affected by the downsizing. According to them, in the last 12 months, they have released 118 expatriate pilots and engineers from its payroll while only 21 Nigerian pilots and engineers have been relieved of their duties.
- In addition, the airline claims that the matter is currently undergoing mediation by the before the Federal Ministry of Labor. As such, the action of the union is uncalled for. “In disregard of the ongoing mediation process, NAAPE has decided 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” Guardian quotes a statement released from the company as saying.
- Although the union accepts that there is a mediation process still in place, it argues against the planned sack of a further 13 Nigerian engineers and 10 pilots, which they believe is inimical to business.
- The union claims that Bristow has further ulterior motives behind the selection of the staff to be affected by the next planned sack. They claim that these staff were selected, not as a result of under-performance or negligence of duties but rather due to their agitation for comparable pay packages for both expatriate employees and local staff.