North Sea helicopter pilots set to strike over job losses 

helicopter pilots strike BALPA photoOver a third of helicopter pilots operating in the North Sea have attended a meeting in Aberdeen convened by the trade union, BALPA, to hear an update on the negotiations over planned redundancies.

Two major helicopter operators – Bristows and CHC – announced last month that scores of pilots are to be laid off because of the deepening slump in the North Sea oil and gas industry.

The meeting was appalled to hear the employers’ approach to the redundancies, at the ruthless exploitation of the weak market by the oil and gas majors and at the consequent real risk to safety in the North Sea.

There was an overwhelming call for BALPA to run a ballot for strike action.

Jim McAuslan, BALPA General secretary, said: “Pilots know that jobs will be lost; but there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it and the helicopter companies need to know that we will not accept their approach. 

“We want decent voluntary terms to attract willing victims, more part time working options to save jobs and objective and transparent redundancy selection criteria, which pay proper regard to flying experience – a critical factor in maintaining safety off shore.

“Pilots have also expressed anger at those higher up the supply chain that are exploiting the crazy competition and have called on Government to knock heads together.

“For pilots safety is our number one priority and there is a fear that these redundancies may lead to corners being cut and pilots flying when their focus is not 100% on task.

“Overall the redundancies are bad for employees, bad for business, bad for the UK economy and bad for safety.

“We will now hold an indicative ballot to ask members if they are willing to take strike action. This will close on Tuesday (18 August 2015)”

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