UK North Sea helicopter pilots call for ballot on strike action

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the professional association and registered trade union established to represent the interests of all UK pilots, has called for a ballot on strike action. 

Namely, over a third of helicopter pilots operating in the North Sea met on Thursday in Aberdeen at a meeting convened by BALPA to hear an update on the negotiations over planned redundancies.

According to BALPA, 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, the association said.

BALPA General secretary, Jim McAuslan, 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 offshore.

“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 18th August.”

Oil & Gas UK, the representative organization for the UK offshore oil and gas industry, was disappointed that BALPA members have called for ballot on strike action.

Oil & Gas UK said: “Oil & Gas UK is disappointed to learn that BALPA members have called for a ballot on strike action. The combination of high costs and lower oil prices is proving extremely testing for the industry and operators and contractors across the sector are having to adapt to the challenging business environment.

“Difficult decisions must be made; however, safety remains a core value at the heart of the sector’s activities. While the industry responds to these new circumstances, industrial action will only exacerbate the real challenges facing the business.”

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