…seek intervention by NCAA, NASS, Aviation, Labour, other ministries
By Sade Williams
Members of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), on Thursday, shutdown operations at Bristow Group, after they protested at the company’s head office at Lagos airport, Ikeja, over issues affecting staff welfare.
The members, who completely withdrew their services to the organisation, accused it of marginalisation of Nigerian pilots and engineers, abuse of expatriate quota and violation of condition of service.
The union added that until the issues in contention have been equitably resolved, the strike remain indefinite.
Comrade Abednego Galadima, President of the association, in a statement said, “NAAPE and Bristow have been in a frosty relationship for over four years now. Within this period, not a single issue has been completely resolved. Not even several interventions by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Federal Ministry of Interior, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have succeeded in resolving any of the many issues. We consider this shameful situation to be a sad and sorry tale of failure of industrial relations by both parties.
“In the Bristow Group’s eighteen (18) national engineers who obtained their Diplomas and Licenses over four (4) years ago have remained without Type Rating contrary to the subsisting Conditions of Service. Similarly, the fate of thirteen (13) other engineers who obtained their Diplomas and Licenses over one year ago remains in limbo. These engineers ought to, by now, be at the level of Engr. 3 if they had been properly designated as Trainee Engineers at entry in accordance with the Conditions of Service (CoS).”
“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.
ii)In the same vein, ten (10) national pilots who obtained their flying licenses from Florida over four (4) years ago also remain in limbo. The management has refused, up till now, to designate them as First Officers. If they did, pilots could have become Senior First Officers by now”, he said.
He continued by saying that ‘As further evidence of massive Expatriate Quota (EQ) fraud going on in the Company, the workers were deceived when about May last year, the management brought in an AW139 helicopter for search and rescue operations with whole foreign crew and engineers. But later in September, the management declared redundancy for national pilots and engineers claiming surplus to requirement.
“When the issue of the expatriate crew of the AW139 was raised, the management claimed they were not Bristow Nigeria Personnel only for the management to later release the AW139 and then transfer all expatriate pilots and engineers on the helicopter to Bristow payroll till date without going through any EQ regularisation as required by law.
“Recently, the management fired the Training Manager, Capt. George Santos (a national) and replaced him with Capt. Matt Newman (an expatriate) just to satisfy the racist appetite of the company’s promoters in Houston because 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 Nigerian Training Captains in Bristow adequately certified by the 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.”
According to him, the company has “Kept pilots and engineers progression at bay, refused to pay for forced work rotation which they kept in place for the whole year January to December of 2017 and have also declared redundancy but refused to offer any justification as required by labour law and Condition of Service, while bidding for time to render potential victims helpless
“Bristow management has commenced a policy of witch-hunting, intimidation and victimization of union members leading to arbitrary sacking of a pilot without recourse to the procedures established in the Conditions of Service and have created and forced engineers into a shift pattern that requires them work for in excess of what is agreed in the Conditions of Service”
“Our union has tried its best to be calmed, composed and matured under this maze of malfeasance on the part of the management. We have tried every form of engagement with the hope of securing an amicable settlement of these issues. But our forbearance has been taken for granted, and our patience has been repaid with scorn and mocking by the management.”
“We call on the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, the Minister of Interior, Minister of State, Aviation, leadership of the National Assembly, the Director general of the NCAA and all agencies of government connected to these issues, to come to our aid’, he added.