Leaders and members of the aviation unions in the Nigeria industry have been brutalised by men of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) following the picketing of Caverton Helicopters over welfare issues.

No fewer than 12 of the protesting workers and union leaders were whisked away by the men of RRS on the order of the helicopter company.

Some of the brutalised workers were later hosptialised due to the injuries they sustained from the assault from the RRS men, while their items such as phones, money, eye glasses and others were either missing or damaged in the melee.

Leaders of the unions — Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) — were seen displaying different placards to express their displeasure with the management of Caverton.

Comrade Paul Igene, the Lagos Branch Chairman of NUATE, alleged that the RRS officials destroyed their vehicles with the order of Caverton Helicopters.

He empahsised that the unions had been in discussion with the management of the helicopter company on the retirement benefits of its members, but the management was reluctant to implement it.

According to Igene, the management had agreed to pay the terminal benefits to the workers end of March 2019 but reneged on the agreement.

According to him, rather for the management to negotiate further with the unions, the management took laws into its hands by inviting RRS officials from Oshodi, Lagos to brutalise its members unjustifiably.

He said that when quizzed, men of RRS said they acted based on “order from Abuja", as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was due to use one of the helicopters of Caverton on Tuesday. He vowed that the unions would resist any form of intimidation by any organisation in the sector, adding that the welfare of its members would be uppermost.

He said: "Officials of Caverton Helicopters ordered our members to be brutalized by RRS men.

"They invited them to come and disrupt our peaceful protest. No fewer than 12 of our members were whisked away by the RRS, while others were hospitalised because of the assault. The RRS officials also towed our vehicles away. We are going to hold Caverton responsible for whatever damage we may have suffered. This is definitely going to be the beginning of it.”

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