NEGOTIATIONS have totally crumbled and industrial ties all but severed as Caverton Helicopters sacked no fewer than 150 staff from its payroll, a development that has angered the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), which in turn declared total war against the airline management.The retrenchment exercise which began on Thursday with the distribution of letters to the affected staff, most of which are non-technical staff.
The unions and the management of Caverton Helicopters over long months have been in negotiations to settle various industrial issues cropping up especially with a planned retrenchment of staff but according to the union, the company broke agreements related to service conditions, which it reached with the union before the sack of some of its members.
A letter intercepted by Nigerianflightdeck.com and addressed to the General Secretary of the union, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, dated October 28, 2016, had notified NUATE of Caverton’s plan to sack 150 employees.
According to the letter, with reference number Ref:CAV/06/IR/01/10/16 and was signed by the Industrial Relations Manager of Caverton, Mr. Segun Alebiosu, the airline insisted that the sack was by the Section 20 of the Nigeria Labour Act, explaining that it took the step after a review of operational exigency and economic climate in the country.
Caverton also only agreed to pay just one month’s salary in lieu of notice rather than the approved severance benefits the company is supposed to pay to the affected staff despite that some of the affected workers had spent more than 10 years with the company.
The letter in part read, “This will affect a total of 150 staff across all cadres, inclusive of members of your union. Some operational levels within the organization have been approved to be outsourced.
“The following are the offers to the affected staff: Accrued salary up to the effective staff; one month salary instead of notice and contributory pension up to the last full month. We look forward to concluding this by November 10th, 2016 as the company will not be able to accommodate the overhead therefrom.“You have the assurance of the board and management of Caverton Helicopters that all affected staff shall be given the first option of refusal when and if there is operational demand for the position vacated,” the company’s letter stated.
According to a union source however, NUATE is not taking this lying down having written back to the Caverton management and warning them of the dire consequences of their action.
Although unable to get the NUATE response at the weekend, our source explained that the union has written to various stakeholders including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ministry of Labour and is urging the airline to rescind its decision and return to the negotiation table.
This however has turned deaf ears as the airline went on with its plan and sacked the workers, which according to the source is grounds for total industrial shutdown of Caverton Helicopters, according to him, the unions are already mobilizing.