Workers threaten to shut down airport over sack of pilots, others

Barely weeks after commencement of operations by local airline operators after months of lockdown, activities in Nigeria’s aviation sector is under another threat as workers have threatened to shut down airline operations over the mass sack of their colleagues.

Recall that Bristow Helicopters recently sacked about 100 pilots and engineers while Air Peace also sacked 75 pilots.

But in a swift reaction, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) issued a two-week ultimatum to the airline operators to recall the affected workers or face industrial unrest.

Addressing Journalists in Lagos the National President of NAAPE, Galadima Abednego, called on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to prevail on all airline operators to stop the sacking of pilots and engineers under the pretense of COVID-19 pandemic just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) halted retrenchments in the banking sector.

He said, “We call on Federal Government of Nigeria to speedily release the promised relief package for the airlines and other government agencies to further save jobs and businesses. We want to strongly advise that airline operators that insist on laying off workers should not benefit from the largesse.

“As a result of the known consequences of these illegal actions and our commitment to patriotic fervor, we shall be forced to withdraw our guarantee of industrial peace within the industry if this call is not heeded within two weeks. Our union will be left with no other option but to withdraw the services of pilots and aircraft maintainable engineers across the airlines

“We will no longer condone a situation where airline operators go to government for relief packages and in turn punish Nigerians in whose name government gave the relief. Our laws must be respected and our airspace must be safe, secured and stable. It is our responsibility and we are prepared to take action before it is too late.”

Vice Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Tokunbo Korodo, said NAAPE has the full backing of the NLC on the looming industrial action.

“They have the total support of the NLC because injury to one is injury to all. We expect operators to go into meaningful negotiation with the union. As you know that we have a united labour union, NLC, so we should expect that the fight will be sweet. However, our door is open for negotiations,” Korodo said.