The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, (NAAPE) has grounded the operations of Bristow Helicopters in Nigeria.
The National President of the association, Balami Isaac, who confirmed the closure of the rotary wing giant yesterday, said: “Their operations are currently grounded and nothing will be happening there today.”
Bristow in a statement confirmed the grounding of the company’s operations but noted that the action related to a dispute between Bristow and NAAPE about the release of national pilots and engineers previously employed by Bristow.
“This matter is currently the subject of a mediation led by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment between NAAPE and Bristow. In disregard of the ongoing mediation process, NAAPE has decided to commence this action,” Bristow said.
A letter addressed to the state Controller of Labour, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Lagos State Office and signed by the association’s General Secretary, Ocheme Aba, stated that labour closed down the Bristow Helicopters for allegedly not complying with expatriate quota law inthe Nigerian oil and gas industry content development.
NAAPE added that Bristow‘s declaration of 13 Nigerian engineers and 10 pilots redundant is totally unjustifiable because the current Nigerian expatriate ration grossly in contravention of Nigeria laws governing quota and local content.
NAAPE stated that the redundancy exercise in contention was Bristow’s management angry reaction to the association’s successful struggle to establish pay parity between the expatriate and nationals, adding that the exercise was targeted at victimising the branch for its roles in the union’s activities that brought about the pay parity.
But Bristow noted that NAAPE’s action was 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 aviation logistics support services in the country.
“As a result of our clients’ reduced operations and demand for aviation services, Bristow has reduced the number of its workforce. It has reduced the number of its expatriate pilots and engineers in Nigeria. We have also reached an amicable agreement with the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) representing our Junior and Senior staff. Over the downturn in the industry (12-18 months), Bristow has released 118 expatriates (pilots and engineers) and 21 Nigerian nationals (pilots and engineers),” Bristow said.