Sirika intervenes in Bristow, pilots face-off, Labour Ministry, NAAPE meet

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has intervened in the protracted industrial action embarked by National Association of Air Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) which has paralysed activities at Bristow Helicopters.

According to NAAPE, the Minister pleaded with the unions to sheathe their swords pending the determination/ outcome of a meeting at the instance of the Ministry of Labour in Lagos today.

The pilots under their umbrella body had yesterday threatened to ground the aviation industry in two weeks should the management of the company refuse to recall the sacked pilots and engineers.

NAAPE President, Mr Abednego Galadinma, at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos, said pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers had resolved to withdraw their services to all airlines, if colleagues were sacked.

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Galadinma faulted Bristow Helicopters for sacking 100 pilots and engineers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the company was not saying the truth, since it operated throughout the lockdown period, servicing the oil and gas sector as an essential service provider.

He urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to, as a matter of urgency, prevail on the airlines to stop the unilateral dismissal of pilots and engineers.

But the management of Bristow Helicopters Limited said the decision to lay off about 100 pilots and engineers was because of its plans to restructure the sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This came barely 24 hours after another airline, Air Peace, sacked over 75 pilots under its employment, due to the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.

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In a statement that was issued by the airline, it was noted that the decision was taken due to the negative impact of the pandemic on its operations. Bristow Helicopters also noted that it would use this period to restructure all aspects of its business model.

 

 

Nigeria’s Min. of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika

 

The airline’s management described the downsizing exercise as painful but inevitable, as it was done in order to ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients.

The aviation firm, which primarily provides services in the oil and gas industry, revealed that it had engaged the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) in order to negotiate a fair and equitable redundancy compensation for all those that will be affected by this exercise.

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It added that the move was made to protect the majority of the existing jobs and the possibility of creating new ones in the future, as well as ensuring the survival of the airline.

Globally, the aviation industry has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic. Nigerian airports were shut from flight operations (domestic and international) in March as part of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Wole Shadare