Hours after members of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) grounded operations at headquarters of Bristow Helicopter at Lagos airport over issues relating to expatriate quota, the airline’s management said on Wednesday that the union disregarded an ongoing mediation on the issue and asked its members to start an industrial action.
The airline noted that the ‘matter is currently the subject of a mediation led by the Federal Ministry of Labour between NAAPE and Bristow, adding that in disregard of the ongoing mediation process, NAAPE has decided to commence this action.
The management explained that 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 said it 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”, it said.
But the union explained that the he management of Bristow Group has concluded plans to disengage Nigerian pilots and engineers in its employ without complying with the expatriate quota law and the Nigerian oil and gas industry content development act.
NAAPE added that Bristow’s declaration of 13 Nigerian engineers and 10 Nigerian pilots redundant is totally unjustifiable because the current Nigerian expatriate ratio is grossly in contravention of Nigerian laws governing expatriate quota and local content.