Bristow Helicopters pilots and technical crew strike over pay and benefits

Bristow Helicopters strike
Credit: Photofex_AUT /

Pilots and technical crew employed by Bristow Helicopters are undertaking strike action this week in a dispute over pay and benefits.

The search and rescue winch operators and paramedics, who are members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), began strike action on Tuesday. It will continue for the rest of the week.

Bristow Helicopters pilots and crew believe that following below-inflation pay settlements and freezes for the past few years while the employer experienced financial difficulties, their pay levels should now be comparable to other helicopter organisations.

The employees have stated that they have asked for an increase to pilot and technical crew salaries and allowances in line with the rate of inflation backdated to 1 April 2023, as well as an increase to the employer’s pension contribution rate.

Their other requests include an increase in loss of licence cover as well as harmonisation of loss of license benefits for former employees, a rise in the amount of medical insurance, and the removal of discrepancies between former crew based in Newquay and existing Bristow aircrew in relation to the employer pension contribution rate, sick pay provision and loss of license or medical benefits.

According to Balpa, it submitted its claim in February 2023 and had previously postponed strike dates in a bid to pursue a negotiated settlement, but no agreement has been reached.

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A Bristow Helicopters spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that Balpa is leading their members out on strike action despite receiving an offer which provides significant enhancements to pay and conditions. The offer was developed following consultation with staff, detailed market analysis and lengthy talks with the union. We are calling on Balpa to continue working with us towards a realistic and sustainable solution.”

Amy Leversidge, general secretary at Balpa, added: “We’ve been in negotiations for well over a year and have given the organisation ample opportunities to listen to its own staff. Our members are simply asking for a fair pay deal that demonstrates the company values them and repays some of the loyalty shown and the contribution pilots and technical crews have made to the organisation’s success.”