Posted by Sade Williams
Bristow Helicopters has threatened to take legal action against the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) as the union continues its strike on Tuesday.
The workers began the strike on Monday after they accused the airline of alleged insensitivity to their plights.
They are demanding better condition of service, new salary structure, equity in salaries, among others.
As the mobilisation action by the union entered day two on Tuesday, disrupting activities at the company, the Bristow management said, the union has reneged on the terms of the agreement with NAAPE on remuneration.
It added that rather than comply with the legally binding agreement, this is, the basis of NAAPEs allegations that Bristow is discriminating against its National staff, it prefers the strike.
It added that it is an attempt by NAAPE to avoid compliance with the legally binding agreement between the parties.
“We note NAAPEs continued refusal to call off the illegal industrial action and come to the negotiating table. NAAPE has raised a number of issues as matters of contention but it appears that their main issue of dispute is the remuneration paid to the National pilots and engineers (currently the highest paid Rotary pilots and engineers in Nigeria). NAAPE alleged that Bristow is discriminatory against the National pilots and engineers in favour of the expatriate staff. This is very much false.
“Over the years, the number of expatriate staff have reduced significantly in favour of National pilots and engineers in line with our local content plan. Bristow is very proud of the increasing number of Nationals in the business and will continue (as it has always done) to train and sponsor National pilots and engineers.
“For emphasis, with respect to remuneration, in 2019, NAAPE and Bristow reached an agreement on the remuneration of national pilots and engineers. In essence, the agreement provided that the salaries will be paid at an exchange rate of ₦345 (as against the then Central Bank rate of ₦306) but with an adjustment to the agreed rate if the NAFEX (which was ₦362.33 as at the date of the agreement) rate moves either way by 20%. As at today’s date, the NAFEX rate has not moved by 20% therefore an adjustment to the agreed rate is not justified.
“NAAPE is now demanding that 100% of the salaries of the National pilots and engineers should be paid in US$ Dollars. This is contrary to the terms of the agreement with NAAPE on remuneration. Rather than comply with the legally binding agreement, this is the basis of NAAPEs allegations that Bristow is discriminating against its National staff. This, in our view, is an attempt by NAAPE to avoid compliance with the legally binding agreement between the parties.
“We have been advised that the strike action by NAAPE is illegal as it has not followed the legal process and procedures. Therefore, the company is at liberty to take appropriate legal action in response to this strike. This includes the application of “no work, no pay” under the provisions of the Labour law. In addition, participation in an illegal strike action amounts to a breach of the company’s employment terms and the company will take appropriate steps in this regard.
“In conclusion, the company remains willing to continue the process of dialogue and engagement with NAAPE and extended an invitation to NAAPE to resume discussions on the issues. Our expectation is for NAAPE to withdraw the strike and resume dialogue” , the airline said on Tuesday.