Following alleged ill-treatment on their members working in Caverton Helicopters by men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), five aviation unions have concluded plans to picket the airline.
According to the unions, the picketing will commence today, April 15 and 16, 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.
The unions include: 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), which have resolved to picket the airline starting from Monday.
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 Monday and Tuesday next week by 9:00am each day to protest what they described as denial of their rights by the Nigerian police.
According to the circular dated April 10, and jointly signed by Ocheme Aba, NUATE General Secretary; Frances Akinjole, ATSSSAN Deputy General Secretary; Abdul Rasaq Saidu, ANAP Secretary General; Umoh Ofonime, NAAPE Deputy General Secretary, and Bello MA, AUPCTRE General Secretary, 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 9, 2019, the Nigeria Police Force stormed Caverton Helicopters, intimidated, harassed, assaulted, brutalised and traumatised 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. All 12 members were later released after mass protest at the airport by their fellow members. 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.”
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 centres 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.