Pilots threaten to ground aviation over sack, issue ultimatum

*Want NCAA to stop unilateral sacks




Aircraft pilots have concluded plans to down tools in two weeks if Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters fails to recall their colleagues sacked on Monday and Tuesday by the airlines.

The threat to carry out their strike action could worsen the fragile aviation industry and ground skeletal operations of carriers that has been impacted by COVID-19.

Pilots umbrella body, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said the threat will be carried out unless the carriers rescind their actions that led to the sack of 175 pilots and engineers over labour related matters.

The body said failure to heed their ultimatum would lead to the withdrawal of their services across airlines.

Speaking at a news briefing in Lagos, President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima said the association had been pushed to the wall with the unilateral decisions taken by Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to sack pilots under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said some of the airline operators have been involved in forceful and unilateral pay cuts and disparity in salaries and wages without recourse to the pilots and engineers, adding that Air Peace, Azman, Caverton Bristow helicopters have become rampant in this regard.

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Pilots inside a cockpit of an aircraft


“Not done with the hijack of the salaries of our members, pilots and engineers are subjected under duress to sign new terms if Conditions of employment or be fired.”

Galadinma said the scheme was to ultimately casualize pilots and engineers, stressing that thus was condemnable and amounts to violent extortion and the deployment of the instrument of intimidation and harassment of workers in the work place.

He said despite the collaboration with their union and other unions in written and oral submissions to the airlines for a round-table to resolve all labour matters, the airlines have refused to see reasons.

The NAAPE President stressed that while expatriates in the employ of Caverton and Bristow helicopters were paid in US dollars, their Nigerian counterparts were treated contemptuously with inferior pay when they do the same job and having the same qualifications.

“Why would these operators pay foreign workers at exchange rates that are far more favorable than Nigerians who are doing the same work and with the same certifications and experience? This is not only economic sabotage but also demeans our nation and all patriotic Nigerians should join in condemning it unreservedly.”

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Galadinma stressed that some of the operators were hell bent on displacing their Nigerian staff in favor of foreigners, alleging that after the recent sack of 69 pilots by Airpeace, the airline employed foreign pilots with more pay.
“A company that chose to steal our jobs, steal our skills and then throw us into the unemployment market does our nation no good and should be treated with caution.”

“Acts that flagrantly disregards our laws and traditions undermine workplace relations and anything that undermine workplace relations injects stress in pilots and engineers endangering safety of lives and property of the flying public.”

Galadinma stressed that this must be nipped in the bud before it becomes a greater threat to the survival of the industry, adding such acts was capable of unsettling the minds of pilots and engineers and these can lead to human errors in operations.
He therefore demanded that Bristow helicopters and Airpeace recall all sacked pilots until all labour issues were resolved or be grounded by NCAA because of attendant safety concerns created by their actions.

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They also called on the NCAA to as a matter of urgency prevail on all airline operators to stop forthwith their unilateral and reckless sacking of pilots and engineers under the pretense of Covid-19 pandemic just like a sister regulator the Central Bank of Nigeria did in the banking sector.

The body also urged the Federal government of Nigeria to speedily release the promised relief package for the airlines and other government agencies to further save jobs and businesses.

“We want to strongly advise that airline operators that insist on laying off workers should not benefit from the largesse.”
“As a result of the known consequences if these illegal actions and our commitment to patriotic fervor, we shall be forced to withdraw our guarantee if industrial peace within the industry if this call is not heeded within two weeks. Our union will be left with no option bit yo withdraw the services of pilots and Aircraft maintenance engineers across all the airlines.”

Wole Shadare