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Bristow strikes continue as pilots’ union calls for an offer ‘focused on pay’

By Oliver Johnson | May 17, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 47 seconds.

Bristow Helicopters appears no closer to ending its ongoing dispute with its striking pilots and tech crews over pay and conditions, with the pilots’ union calling for “an offer that is just focused on pay and is not reliant on reducing terms and conditions.”

The operator released a statement on May 16 calling for its staff to “[take] the time to read the latest offer presented to [pilots’ union] BALPA.”

Bristow said the offer represented an average pay increase of about 11 percent, as well as a one-off payment equating to six percent of 2023 salaries.

“Not only has this been termed as a derisory offer, it has also been suggested real term pay for Bristow SAR [search-and-rescue] crews has decreased 25 percent in recent years,” the company said in the statement. “This is simply not true.”

It said the offer was “indicative of the company’s willingness to negotiate” and was “a good offer.”

Under the terms of the offer, Bristow said pilots in its offshore energy services and SAR divisions will earn between £65,850 and £141,850 before allowances next year.

In response, BALPA general secretary Amy Leversidge said after 95 percent of its members rejected a previous offer, it had entered arbitration talks with Bristow.

“After over a week of trying to get movement from Bristow management, they tabled an offer that was virtually indistinguishable from the rejected offer,” she said. “There is no confusion or misunderstanding on our part, our members are clear and resolute.”

Bristow is approaching the end of its first 10-year contract to provide search-and-rescue (SAR) services for the U.K. on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

In July 2022, it was announced as the winner of the follow-up £1.6 billion UKSAR2G program, with the transition to that contract beginning later this year.

BALPA said the strike has been structured to enable “life and limb cover” for those SAR services, while Bristow said “colleagues across multiple bases” have “helped mitigate the impact the strike action has had.”

The industrial dispute was brought up in the U.K. parliament on May 16, with Aviation Minister Anthony Browne announcing that he is planning to meet with Bristow to discuss the matter.

“Clearly good industrial relations are very very important to make sure that they operate effectively, and I’m sure the MCA will keep that in view during their review [of the SAR service],” said Browne.

This is the second week of strike action, and it is scheduled to continue for at least seven weeks.

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