Bristow pilots, engineers begin strike over alleged abuse of expatriate quota
Pilots and engineers at Bristow Group yesterday began an indefinite strike in protest against alleged anti-labour activities.The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) organised the strike.
The workers, who grounded the airline’s operations, accused the airline of abusing expatriate quota, by continuously replacing Nigerians with foreigners.National President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, told reporters in Lagos that the frosty relationship had been on for over four years.Following the action, chartered operations, helicopter services and routine aviation fuel supply were disrupted at the company’s bases in Lagos, Eket and Escravos.
Galadima accused Bristow of consistently violating the Nigerian expatriate policy to cause disequilibrium in favour of foreigners. He added that recently, the management allegedly fired the Training Manager, Capt. George Santos (a national) and replaced him with Capt. Matt Newman (an expatriate)
“This was done to satisfy the racist appetite of the company’s promoters in Houston, because Santos had not been found wanting in any particular regard. He cited other areas of this violation and vowed that the union would not call off the strike until the issues are resolved.
But, the management, in a statement, argued that the leadership of NAAPE made a number of “inaccurate allegations against Bristow” to support its action.
“For the record, Bristow has acted (and will continue to act) in accordance with all national laws relating to its operations and with respect to its personnel. “In addition, since its inception, Bristow continues to be the leading recruiter and trainer of national engineers and pilots in Nigeria.
“Bristow pays a national pilot N56 million per year and a national engineer N40 million per year. This is the highest pay within the aviation industry and Bristow has never delayed in paying salaries to its employees.
“Many of them have since progressed to take up very senior executive positions within the Bristow Group and other companies operating within Nigeria and internationally. “We will continue with our resolute commitment to the promotion of Nigerian local content, capability and capacity within our industry, despite the very challenging economic climate.”
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