The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) on Thursday shut down the operations of Bristow Helicopters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
The action of the pilots and engineers grounded Bristow from providing vital services to its clients in the oil and gas sector.
NAAPE said the grouse of its members stemmed from the pay disparity between the expatriate personnel and their Nigerian counterparts, which the union insisted must be reviewed.
THISDAY visited the headquarters of the company near the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Lagos airport and observed that some of the union members were seen protesting at the gate of the company.
The strike was in realisation of the threat of the union on Wednesday warning that the pilots and engineers under NAAPE would go on strike from 2400hrs of Wednesday, March 30 to 2400hrs on Friday April 1, resulting from the pay disparity through which Nigerian pilots and engineers are discriminated against in favour of foreign nationals, “as well as the highly inimical absence of valid conditions of service”.
The General Secretary of NAAPE, Mr. Ocheme Aba pointed out that all efforts of his union to get the management of Bristow to redress these acts of injustice and violation of the constitution of Nigeria, as well as contravention of Bristow Code of Business Integrity (COBI) had failed to yield any positive results.
But the spokesman of Bristow, Mr. Cornelius Onuoha said the company has been in dialogue with NAAPE over the past few months regarding this matter and a proposal was recently sent to NAAPE for its consideration.
“The Federal Ministry of Labour has intervened in the matter and had advised the union to stop its action and maintain the status quo until a meeting scheduled for April.
“This action is coming at a time when the global oil and gas industry is facing severe challenges and the Nigerian economy is undergoing serious disruptions with a number of clients reducing their activities. Bristow continues to keep its obligations to clients and employees.
“Bristow is disappointed that despite our concerted efforts to keep our Nigeria operations running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, this action will temporarily impact flight schedules. We will continue to encourage dialogue and partnership with all stakeholders during this period,” he said.
However, NAAPE in a statement later, said it had suspended the strike after the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige.
“I am to inform you that the Federal Ministry of Labour has intervened in the matter and has made a passionate appeal to the union to allow the ministry offer its mediation service,” the NAAPE general secretary said.