Nigeria: NLC, Aviation Unions Shut Down Bristow Helicopters'

4 August 2020

Lagos — Operations at Bristow Helicopters in Lagos were yesterday disrupted by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate bodies in aviation following unresolved industrial disputes.

Members of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) had earlier directed its members working with Bristow to withdraw their services with effect from midnight on Monday.

The union is angry over what it called "discriminatory policies and consistent victimisation of Nigerians working for the carrier."

The airline had, in a statement, dismissed the allegations by the union, saying the proposed strike was illegal.

Prior to the commencement of the strike, the union however mobilised its sister union, the NLC and other aviation unions to picket the operational headquarters of Bristow in Lagos.

The workers blocked the entry and exit points into the company preventing staff and visitors from leaving or gaining access to the office.

The workers also rejected the bench-marking of salaries of indigenous pilots and engineers at N345/$1, describing the rate as "obsolete."

Spokesman of NAAPE, Engr. Frank Igwe, decried the alleged victimisation of its members.

He also tasked the management to address the disparity in remuneration of Nigerian pilots and engineers and their foreign counterparts.

But the management of Bristow Helicopter, yesterday, said the strike declared by the union was "illegal and unwarranted."

It also said contrary to the assertion by the union "that all negotiations have broken down, the company remains willing and prepared to continue dialogue with NAAPE."

Bristow dismissed the union's allegations. It explained that most of the issues under contention arose out of an agreement executed in 2019 between Bristow and NAAPE ("The 2019 Agreement").

"It is important to state that notwithstanding the economic challenges in the aviation industry since the spread of COVID-19 Bristow pilots and engineers have remained the best paid in their industry and have not suffered any reduction or change in their salaries, at a time that operations have reduced by 50%," the company said.

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