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Aviation Unions, Caverton Helicopters Mgt Reach Truce Over Planned Picketing


The management of Caverton Helicopters has reached a truce with the aviation unions, which had planned to picket its operations indefinitely as from today.

It was also gathered that the management had paid the sum of N400m as terminal benefits to the affected workers who were sacked almost a year ago by the airline.

The unions, 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), had threatened to commence picketing of the airline today.

But, the management of the airline immediately on Monday morning called the leaderships of the unions to a closed-door meeting, where agreement was reached and the N400m immediately paid into the accounts of the affected workers.

The General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba, confirmed the meeting and payment to our correspondent on phone.

Before now, they maintained that picketing of Caverton Helicopters would continue until all employees being owed were paid their due terminal benefits as negotiated by the affected unions of NUATE, ATSSSAN and NAAPE.

Recalled that the unions had last week accused the management of the airline of using men of Rapid Response Squad (RRS), to brutalise at least 12 of its members who were carrying out peaceful protest to press home for their terminal benefits.

The unions in a circular dated April 10 and signed by their General Secretaries; Ocheme Aba (NUATE), Frances Akinjole (ATSSSAN), Abdulrasaq Saidu (ANAP), Umoh Ofonime (NAAPE) and Bello M.A for AUPCTRE said that the picketing would be indefinite until the management of the helicopter company acceded to their demands.

Apart from the picketing of the company in Lagos, the unions said that other offices of Caverton in Port Harcourt would also be shutdown, adding that its members in the state would assemble at the NAF Base operations of Caverton Helicopters to carry out similar protests.

The circular read in part: “In the early hours of Thursday April 9, 2019, the Nigeria Police Force stormed Caverton Helicopters – Commando fashion-and intimidated, harassed, assaulted, brutalised and traumatised officials and members of 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, but, 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.”