UK-based crew members at Bristow Helicopters have begun a strike over pay after more than a year of negotiations with pilots’ union BALPA failed to reach agreement.


Source: Bristow Helicopters

BALPA says its members will continue to provide ‘life and limb’ cover to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency during the strike

BALPA says the rotorcraft specialist – which provides search and rescue services to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as well as North Sea transport services to oil rig operators – “continues to belligerently ignore calls for a fair and reasonable pay offer”.

The pilots, paramedics and winch operators will strike from Tuesday to Thursday for each of the next three weeks, alternating between the oil and gas and search and rescue parts of the business. BALPA says it will ensure “life and limb cover” remains.

Earlier, BALPA called off a three-day strike that was due to begin on 3 March as a mark of respect following a fatal Sikorsky S-92 crash off the Norwegian coast in which a crew member died. However, it warned at the time that the strikes would go ahead later unless a resolution was reached.

The two sides had been engaged in talks with arbitration service ACAS, but BALPA accused Bristow of “failing to listen and come forward with a fair pay offer that is acceptable to members”.

Bristow says it is “disappointed” in the decision to strike in the face of what it calls “an offer which provides significant enhancements to pay and conditions” and has called on BALPA to “continue working with us, through the ACAS process, towards a realistic and sustainable solution”.

The company says it has “detailed and comprehensive mitigation plans in place for all our customers”, including the MCA.

BALPA general secretary Amy Leversidge says Bristow crews “operate in some of the most treacherous and challenging conditions transporting workers to the oil and gas rigs in the North Sea and providing vital search and rescue services”.

She says that following “years of pay freezes and cuts”, BALPA members have “remained dedicated to their jobs and supported the company in difficult times”.

She adds: “Now the company is doing well and reporting profits, our members are simply asking for a fair pay deal that demonstrates the company values them and repays some of the loyalty shown.”