FIVE aviation unions have declared irreconcilable differences with management of Caverton Helicopters and will picket the airline come Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th of April, 2019 to express their displeasure over the denial of their rights by the police and also the inability of Caverton Helicopters to pay up their members’ terminal benefits.
Unions under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE); Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP); National Association of Air Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Services Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) have all indicated participation in picketing Caverton starting from Monday
Recall there was serious protest last week as unions barricaded the access route to Murtala Muhammed International Airport following the alleged ill-treatment meted on their members working in Caverton Helicopters by men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), who injured some of the protesting workers.
In a circular letter issued to all aviation workers at the weekend, the labour union leaders directed all aviation workers in Lagos to assemble at Freedom Square at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) headquarters on the 15th and 16th of April, 2019 by 9:00am each day to protest what they described as denial of their rights by the Nigerian police.
According to the circular dated 10th April, 2019 and jointly signed by NUATE General Secretary, Ocheme Aba; ATSSSAN Deputy General Secretary, Frances Akinjole; ANAP Secretary General, Abdul Rasaq Saidu; NAAPE Deputy General Secretary, Umoh Ofonime and AUPCTRE General Secretary, Bello MA, workers in Port Harcourt are to also assemble at the NAF Base operations of Caverton Helicopters to carry out similar protests.
The circular stated “In the early hours of Thursday April 9th, 2019, the Nigeria Police Force stormed Caverton Helicopters – Commando Fashion-and intimidated, harassed, assaulted, brutalized and traumatized officials and members of National Union of Air Transport Employees NUATE who were engaged in the lawful activity of picketing Caverton Helicopters under the directive of the union, 12 of them were violently whisked away to unknown destination”.
“They were later found to have been detained at a facility in Oshodi, Lagos, operated by the Lagos State Environmental Safety Corps Task Force. Though all 12 Comrades were later released after mass protest at the airport by fellow Comrades. It is noteworthy that no particular charges were entered against them by the police. Also NUATE’s official vehicle was towed away to the same facility but damaged beyond repair in the process. Two of the assaulted Comrades are still on treatment of injuries received at the hands of the police while the lone female Comrade among them is currently on trauma therapy”, the letter added.
Arising from the foregoing, the unions stated that all unions operating in the aviation sector as named above stand firm to condemn in the strongest terms “the ungodly collaboration between the management of Caverton Helicopters and the NPF to deny the workers of the airline the benefits of representation of their unions and their rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria and Nigeria Labour law”.
The group further informed that their unions have fully briefed their respective labour centers of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC).
They maintained that picketing of Caverton Helicopters shall continue until all employees being owed are paid their due terminal benefits as negotiated by the affected unions of NUATE, ATSSSAN and NAAPE.