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Business / Bristow helicopter crews vote for ‘last resort’ industrial action

An archive image of a Bristow helicopter at Scatsta. Photo: Shetland News

HELICOPTER crews working at Bristow have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The ballot conducted among members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) closed on Wednesday and returned a 96 per cent yes vote on a 93 per cent turn out.

In Shetland Bristow operates the contract for the Sumburgh-based coastguard search and rescue helicopter. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been approached for a response.

BALPA said it would not provide details of the number of Shetland-based employees involved in the ballot.

BALPA general secretary Amy Leversidge said: “This ballot is a clear indication of the strength of feeling amongst our members.

“Despite months of negotiation Bristow’s management has failed to listen to employees and offer a fair and reasonable pay deal.

“Our members, who include pilots and technical crew (winch paramedics and winch operators) operate in some of the most treacherous conditions.

“They provide vital search and rescue services and transport workers to the oil and gas rigs in the North Sea.

“For years, our members have remained loyal to Bristow enduring pay freezes and cuts while they were in difficult times.

“It is unreasonable for Bristow to expect their helicopter pilots and technical crews to continue with austerity pay at a time when the company is booming and it is BALPA members who are at the heart of that success.”

She added that industrial action is “always a last resort, and none of our members want to be in this position – but clearly enough is enough”.

“Industrial action is always a last resort and none of our members want to be in this position but clearly enough is enough.

Leversidge encouraged Bristow to “get back to the bargaining table with BALPA and give our members a fair and reasonable pay offer”.

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A spokesperson for Bristow Helicopters said: “We are extremely disappointed by the outcome of this ballot and that, despite Bristow tabling an improved offer in a bid to avoid strike action, staff were not given an opportunity to vote on that offer before being balloted to participate in strike action.

“We believe our latest offer is highly competitive and remain committed to working collaboratively with BALPA to arrive at a fair and sustainable agreement that recognises the hard work and commitment of our team and to avoid unnecessary strike action.”

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