Home News Bristow Layoff over 100 Pilots, Engineers over COVID-19 Impact

Bristow Layoff over 100 Pilots, Engineers over COVID-19 Impact

by timenews
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Hinged on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing downturn in
the global oil and gas, Bristow Helicopters has announced that it
would lay off over 100 pilots and engineers in the next couple of
weeks.
This is coming in spite of the ongoing strike action embarked upon by
the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE)
against Bristow over labour issues.
The Airline in a statement noted that the spread of the COVID-19 has
severely impacted all sectors in the Aviation Industry including its
market, which primarily serves the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector; hence
its decision to restructure its operations to accommodate the optimal
level of personnel to continue the safe delivery of its services to
its clients.
It stressed that the decisive step is meant to ensure the continuity
of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients.
“The spread of the COVID-19 has severely impacted all sectors in the
Aviation Industry including our market, which primarily serves the
Nigerian oil and gas sector.
“In addition, the ongoing downturn in the global oil and gas market
continues to influence and determine the demand for our services.  The
combined effects of these ‘arisings’ have resulted in very significant
reductions to our business particularly a reduction in the number of
contracted aircraft in Nigeria. As a result, the company must now
restructure all aspects of its business model (both Rotary & Fixed
Wing), including an extensive review of its operations and we continue
to drive efficiencies, but with zero compromise to safety and our core
values.
“One of these measures includes the right sizing of the business to
ensure that the company has the optimal level of personnel to continue
the safe delivery of its services to its clients, whilst allowing the
appropriate capacity for future growth.  Accordingly, and with much
regret, the company has taken the very difficult decision to release
over 100 pilots and engineers (both National and Expatriates) over the
next couple of weeks.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but having considered the
state of the business and the very serious constraints caused by the
spread of the COVID-19 disease and the downturn in the oil and gas
market, the company must now take this painful, but decisive step to
ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential
services to its clients,” the statement read in part.
The strike action by NAAPE which entered the second day today was
based on a number of allegations against the Helicopter Company.
NAAPE highlighted some issues as being “under contention” and that it
was necessary to clarify them, most of which arose out of an agreement
executed in 2019 between Bristow and NAAPE (“the 2019 Agreement”).
The Union accused Bristow of discriminatory policies and consistent
victimisation of Nigerian workers in its workforce.  It also accused
the Helicopter Company bench-marking salaries of indigenous pilots and
engineers to an obsolete rate of N345/$1, its recent insistence of
proposal to implement N355/$1, saying such rate is not obtainable on
any leg of foreign exchange window in the world while still paying
expatriate staff their full remuneration in dollars.
Other issues raised are failure of the airline to train qualified
persons in Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) and failure to fully
reimburse individuals who successfully completed their ATPL through
self-sponsorship among other allegations.
Bristow in reaction noted that NAAPE highlighted some issues as being
“under contention” and that it was necessary to clarify them, most of
which arose out of an agreement executed in 2019 between Bristow and
NAAPE (“the 2019 Agreement”), saying that by its demand, NAAPE is
seeking to act contrary to the legally binding agreement it signed
voluntarily.
Bristow explained that it proposed to put a ‘pause’ on the Pilots and
Engineers Conditions of Service (COS) negotiations recognising the
recent global outbreak of COVID-19, the plummeting of global oil
prices and the mandatory 22 per cent OPEC cuts to Nigeria’s crude oil
production. “All which have had a significant impact on our business
and capacity utilisation in Nigeria,” it said.
“It is important to state that notwithstanding the economic challenges
in the aviation industry since the spread of Covid-19, Bristow pilots
and engineers have remained the best paid in their Industry and have
not suffered any reduction or change in their salaries, at a time when
operations have reduced by 50 per cent.
“In the 2019 Agreement the parties agreed the relevant exchange rate
at which the salaries of Bristow pilots and engineers would be
calculated. In the agreement, both parties agreed on NGN345/$1 (at a
time when the CBN exchange rate was NGN306/$1) with a provision for
adjustment if the NAFEX rate moves in either direction by 20 per cent
or more.  Currently, the NAFEX rate has not reached the agreed
threshold.  Bristow has fully complied with the provisions of the
agreement with NAAPE.  By its demand, NAAPE is seeking to act contrary
to the legally binding agreement it signed voluntarily,” the
Helicopter Company explained.
However, in compliance with the relevant labour and local content laws
and also best practices; the Company said it has engaged the
leadership of NAAPE to negotiate a fair and equitable redundancy
compensation for the affected individuals.  “In compliance with the
terms of employment, the affected individuals will be paid three
months’ salary (excluding applicable deductions) following their exit
from the Company.  The redundancy packages will be paid to them as
soon as an agreement has been reached with NAAPE,” it promised.

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