Helicopter pilots and crew start a second week of strike action

The union has warned that it will carry on for as long as it takes.

Pilots and crew at a major North Sea helicopter operator say they are prepared to continue strike action over a pay dispute for ‘as long as it takes’.

Flights to rigs have been disrupted and search and rescue services have been impacted as members of the BALPA union working at Bristow have walked out again this week.

The union has accused management at the helicopter firm of showing contempt for staff.

“We’ve been in negotiations with Bristow for over a year now, and unfortunately, they failed to make an offer that our members deem acceptable,” said Amy Leversidge, BALPA general secretary.

“Every offer that they’ve put to members, they’ve rejected. The last offer was rejected; 95% of the members rejected it. It just wasn’t good enough at all.

“We’ve repeatedly tried to get to the point of a fair and sensible offer, and we’ve repeatedly told the company exactly what members would accept.

“Our pilots and technical crew have spent many years working for Bristow and shown so much loyalty to the company. They’ve stood with them through the hard times.

“But now that the company is successful, they want to share in that success because it’s been them that has made that success.”

The pilot’s union, BALPA, says it’s the first time its members have taken action at the North Sea operator.

The oil and gas sector is worth billions to the UK economy, so flights offshore are crucial in ensuring there is no disruption to production.

But there have been reports of some workers stuck, unable to get onshore because of the dispute.

The union previously postponed action in an attempt to try and get a deal.

This is the second week that pilots and crew at Bristow have walked out, but the union has warned that it will carry on for as long as it takes.

No more talks have been planned, with strike dates announced until the start of June.

Bristow said they are disappointed by the action and that their offer is benchmarked against the industry.

A spokesperson said: “It is in the interests of everyone that we work together with BALPA to find a solution to this situation, and we would welcome the opportunity to resume talks via ACAS.”

“The offer that has been made to our pilots and technical crews is a good one. It is one that consists of an average salary increase for 2024 of approximately 11%, provides a lump-sum pensionable payment of 6% based on their 2023 pay, and takes into account at varying degrees each of the requested points received from BALPA to date.

“Those engaging in strike action perform a critical role and this is reflected in the offer presented to BALPA.

“The very nature of strike action means operations will be disrupted. However, our crewing, scheduling and ground operations colleagues are working as diligently and as professionally as possible to minimise the impact the current situation is having on customers.

“We are thankful for the patience shown by customers and Bristow employees across many areas of the business, and look forward to working with BALPA in a collaborative manner to resolve the issue.”

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