The situation at Caverton Helicopters has gone worse if the words of the managing Director of the airline, Mr. Josiah Choms who has thrown caution to the wind is anything to go by as he has asked the union to shut the airline down to the detriment of whoever it will affect.
Choms in a statement confirmed that they have had several meetings with the union and said the cuts were meant so that Caverton could keep all its staff but,” If the right thing to do is to shut down the company when we are doing our best to retain everybody, I wish them good luck. We would now see who will suffer,” he said.
Earlier, the ultimatum issued the airline by the unions and could not get a response from Caverton, but while explaining their own position, the airline’s CEO said that,” Drop in oil price affected everybody. They agreed some people will take pay reduction.”
“One of our clients had 7 aircraft, now they are flying 3. We held a meeting, we explained to them. They made some demands which we acceded to. We’ve had several sessions with them. We’ve done the best we can, in this economic downturn.”
Choms in his office said the company only reduce workers’ salaries and that salaries are up to date.
He said their clientele had reduced because of the fall in oil price. There was time of plenty when oil was over 100 dollars per barrel, not it is 40. The company tries as much as possible to explain the situation on ground to the union.
He continued, “I do not understand the union’s position and the threat that this represents. We’ve engaged the union in light of the global economic meltdown which is not a specific Caverton situation. Everybody in the world and in Nigeria is facing serious challenges, how our clients have requested for discount, some of them have dropped aircraft. We are not an airline that flies based on passenger traffic. We work on contract. With a dwindling revenue strain, there was no other way but to look at how to increase efficiency and cut our cost.
However document acquired by our reporter in a letter written to the Chairman of Caverton, Dr. Aderemi Makanjuola on March 10, 2016 reference NUATE.GS/MD.CAVERTON/ENP/006-016 by the union showed the clear disparity.
The union cited disparity, harassment and unfair labour practice in the airline as well as cases of marginalization, nepotism, discrimination, intimidation and executive recklessness being displayed and perpetrated on regular basis by those saddled with the management of human and material resources of Caverton Helicopters, in grave violation of the safety, security and sustainability of the enterprise and the very sensitive aviation industry.
The letter in part read, “Permit us Sir, to inform you that since September 2015, workers of the company are disheartened, saddened and unhappy to observe that their salaries were deliberately cut without recourse to them or their unions, in gross violation of applicable standards; Sir, for security reasons, we shall refrain from using real names, in the following examples:-.”
“(a) Mr. James whose salary was N300, 000 in July 2015 was paid N100, 000 with effect from September 2015, losing N200, 000; Mrs. Abigail had a salary cut of N250, 000 leaving her only N40, 000; Mr. Abdullah had a salary cut of N150, 000 leaving him with only N50, 000 at the end of the month;”
“Whereas (b) Mrs. Juliet had a salary increase from N200,000 to N500,000; Mrs. Angelina had a salary increase from N500, 000 to N1, 200, 000. (c) Some other staff did not enjoy increase in salaries neither did they have their salaries cut. (d) Mr. Okoro had a salary cut of just N30, 000 from a salary of N600, 000 etc.”
“ In the same company where the above scenario occurred, we discovered that all members of staff who were in the departments where one of the benefiting officers operated enjoyed salary increases as compensation, except two who were seen as not “belonging” and or do not have godfather/godmother; (administration and human resources)”
“Consequent upon several letters we have dispatched to the Management on this ant- labour disposition, it was sadly discovered that rather than deal with the matter astutely, in a responsible and timely manner, the Management went to our bases in Warri and Port Harcourt, to reverse the salary cut for only indigenes of the area due to pressure from the Community Elders of those places and still left some other staff behind, as they were said not to be “sons of the soil” thereby creating a divide/bad blood among the workers which is inimical to safety and security.”