The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineer (NAAPE) on Friday grounded the services of Bristow Helicopters over staff welfare issues, alleging racism in the company’s operations.
NAAPE President, Comrade Abednego Galadima, who briefed the press during the picketing at the airlines office in Lagos, said Bristow has not treated the aircraft engineers and pilots in its employment well as there has not been career advancement for some of them after many years in the employment of the airline, as well as accusing the airline of encouraging racism as it advances the careers of its expatriate staff against Nigerian.
He also accused the airline of marginalization of Nigerian Pilots and Engineers And Expatriate Quota Abuse stating that the workers were deceived when about May last year, the management brought in an AW139 helicopter for search and rescue operations with whole foreign crew and engineers. But later in September, the management declared redundancy for national pilots and engineers claiming surplus to requirement. When the issue of the expatriate crew of the AW139 was raised, the management claimed they were not Bristow Nigeria Personnel only for the management to later release the AW139 and then transfer all expatriate pilots and engineers on the helicopter to Bristow payroll till date without going through any EQ regularization as required by law.
He said, “Also, the management continues to deny qualified national engineers promotion into senior positions while continually training expatriates to hold same positions in perpetuity.
“In the same vein, ten (10) national pilots who obtained their flying licenses from Florida over four (4) years ago also remain in limbo. The management has refused, up till now, to designate them as First Officers. If they did, pilots could have become Senior First Officers by now.
“Similarly, most of the current SFOs have been due to take command as Captains for years, but the management again refused to promote them despite availability of vacancies. Instead, the management has applied for over fifty expatriate pilots to fill the same position which smacks of racism.
He also accused the management of sacking the Training Manager, Capt. George Santos (a Nigerian ) and replaced him with Capt. Matt Newman (an expatriate) “just to satisfy the racist appetite of the company’s promoters in Houston because Capt. Santos had not been found wanting in any particular regard”, he further alleged
While giving a breakdown of the expatriate quota within the company the NAAPE president said, the disequilibrium in favour of expatriates cannot by any stretch of imagination given any semblance of compliance with Nigerian’s expatriate policy document which requires that there shall be two Nigerian understudies for every expatriate position. Therefore, the least position acceptable to the law is ratio 1:2 in favour of Nigerians.
It is also a requirement that there be a definite programme by which the understudies are to take over from the particular expatriate, with clear time line. There are no such programmes in Bristow, he added.
Though Bristow Management has yet to come up with their defense some of the action taken against them include withdrawn their services to the airline. Also, all affiliates of the Labour Centre, the revered United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) have, in solidarity, agreed to withdraw all services rendered by them to the Bristow Group, including supply of aviation fuel. This situation of shut down of Bristow Group he said shall be indefinite until all the issues in contention have been equitably resolved.
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