Strike Edges Closer For Offshore Helicopter Pilots

Published at 03:26PM - 20/08/15

The result of a ballot held, to see if strike action was supported by UK offshore helicopter pilots, showed that the majority are in favour.

UK pilots union BALPA, held the ballot after its members became increasingly worried last month about job losses currently taking hold of the offshore helicopter industry. 

The ballot followed a meeting in Europe’s offshore oil capital, Aberdeen, last week which closed on Tuesday.

BALPA said a survey they conducted with offshore pilots, showed an overwhelming acceptance of job losses, but also showed that both offshore pilots and ground crew were frustrated by the way management were going about the cuts.

General Secretary of BALPA, Jim McAuslan, said:  “We are not being unreasonable. We know the downturn in the North Sea is going to hit jobs, but the way the companies are going about it is causing massive frustration, borne out by the very high turnout and strong ‘yes’ vote in this ballot conducted over just four days.

Offshore Helicopter Safety

One reoccurring message from the survey was safety, showing that pilots increasingly felt ‘worried’ and ‘distracted’ by the looming job losses and that it was starting to show in the cockpit.

The survey, completed anonymously, brought private comments from pilots into the public domain, including from one:

“Radio calls are being missed.  Pilots’ heads are not in the cockpit.”

Jim McAuslan continued: “Safety must come first. We are not saying that helicopter companies are indifferent to these issues, but we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the stress and pressure that pilots are feeling.  We will be passing these concerns on to the Civil Aviation Authority who regulate aviation in the North Sea.”

Pilots have told BALPA that they want offshore helicopter companies to greatly improve voluntary redundancy arrangements, and to prevent as many compulsory job losses as possible.

Offshore Pilots Next Step

McAuslan said, “In the event management do not substantially shift their position BALPA’s National Executive Council will be meeting early next month to consider a move to a formal strike vote, something we are still hoping to avoid.”

 

 Jim McAuslan Speaking On BBC Radio Scotland Earlier This Month

 

Last updated on 10:54AM - 05/09/15