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Relief as Aviation unions suspend strike against Caverton Helicopters

The crisis rocking the nation’s aviation sector which took another dimension in the week may have been put under control as aviation trade unions have suspended their industrial action against Caverton Helicopters over alleged anti-labour practices.

Mr Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), confirmed the development in an interview, saying the unions had suspended the action following an invitation by the airline’s management to them to come for a meeting.

Abioye disclosed that “Now we are preparing for a meeting with the management and we are looking forward to an amicable resolution of the issues on ground.

“Our main demand is the conclusion of the ongoing discussion on salary increment and conditions of service.

“When we complete that, we will now go to the next one which is the management’s plan to disengage certain numbers of staff.

“We are hoping that we will be able to apply the conditions of service which we would have signed as the benchmark to determine the conditions on which those affected are to go, if they have to go.”

It would be recalled that the NUATE and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) had on Thursday picketed the airline’s premises at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Members of both unions, while chanting various solidarity songs, barred workers and clients of the airline from entering the company’s premises for several hours.

Unions had flayed the decision of the Caverton’s management to declare 150 workers redundant in view of the current economic situation in the country.

Their grievances hinged on the allegation that the affected workers were paid only a month salary in lieu of notice despite some of them having spent up to 13 years in the airline’s service.

Caverton had in a letter addressed to the NUATE, which was sighted by NAN, claimed that the sacking of the workers was based on the review of its operational exigency and economic climate in the country.

The letter dated Oct.28 and signed by the airline’s Industrial Relation Manager, Mr Segun Alebiosu, said the move was in accordance with Section 20 of the Nigeria Labour Act.

The affected workers, according to the letter,  were offered accrued salary up to the effective date, one month salary in lieu of notice and contributory pension up to the last full month.