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Pilots threaten to ground airlines over sack

Aircraft pilots have concluded plans to down tools in two weeks if Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters fail to recall their colleagues sacked on Monday and Tuesday by the airlines.
The threat to carry out their strike action could worsen the fragile aviation industry and ground skeletal operations of carriers that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Pilots’ umbrella body, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), said the threat will be carried out unless the carriers rescind their actions that led to the sack of 175 pilots and engineers over labour related matters.
The body said failure to heed their ultimatum would lead to the withdrawal of their services across airlines.
Speaking at a news briefing in Lagos, President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, said the association had been pushed to the wall with the unilateral decisions taken by Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to sack pilots under the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said some of the airline operators have been involved in forceful and unilateral pay cuts and disparity in salaries and wages without recourse to the pilots and engineers, adding that Air Peace, Azman, Caverton Bristow Helicopters have become rampant in this regard.
“Not done with the hijack of the salaries of our members, pilots and engineers are subjected under duress to sign new terms of conditions of employment or be fired,” the NAAPE president said.
Galadima said despite the collaboration with their union and other unions in written and oral submissions to the airlines for a roundtable to resolve all labour matters, the airlines have refused to see reasons.
The NAAPE President stressed that while expatriates in the employ of Caverton and Bristow Helicopters were paid in US dollars, their Nigerian counterparts were treated contemptuously with inferior pay when they do the same job and having the same qualifications.
“Why would these operators pay foreign workers at exchange rates that are far more favourable than Nigerians who are doing the same work and with the same certifications and experience? This is not only economic sabotage, but also demeans our nation and all patriotic Nigerians should join in condemning it unreservedly.”
Galadinma stressed that some of the operators were hell-bent on displacing their Nigerian staff in favour of foreigners, alleging that after the recent sack of 69 pilots by Air Peace, the airline employed foreign pilots with more pay.
“A company that chose to steal our jobs, steal our skills and then throw us into the unemployment market does our nation no good and should be treated with caution.
“Acts that flagrantly disregard our laws and traditions undermine workplace relations and anything that undermine workplace relations injects stress in pilots and engineers endangering safety of lives and property of the flying public,” he said.
They also called on the NCAA to, as a matter of urgency, prevail on all airline operators to stop forthwith their unilateral and reckless sacking of pilots and engineers under the pretence of COVID-19 pandemic just like a sister regulator the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did in the banking sector.
The body also urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to speedily release the promised relief package for the airlines and other government agencies to further save jobs and businesses.

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