Bristow Ireland Limited, which will operate the Irish Coast Guard search and rescue aviation services contract in Ireland from October 2024, has said it will fully engage with unions on the transfer of staff.
Bristow said it has given a commitment to the Department of Transport that the company supports the principles of the transfer of undertakings regulations and that it would fully engage with Fórsa and Unite as part of the mobilisation phase of the contract.
Earlier this year, the Department of Transport controversially awarded the new Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue Aviation Services contract to Bristow Ireland, a subsidiary of Bristow Group Ltd. The contract will be worth €1b over the 10-year lifetime of the contract. There is also an option to extend that contract by three years.
Bristow will operate search and rescue operations from bases at Shannon, Sligo, Waterford and Dublin. The current base at Dublin Airport will be moved to nearby Weston Airport.
Bristow has already commenced a recruitment process for the new operation raising fears about the security of those currently undertaking the vital lifesaving work.
In a statement this afternoon, a Bristow spokesperson said; “We are fully committed to establishing pathways for personnel currently servicing the existing SAR (search and rescue) contract to join Bristow,” the company said in a statement. We look forward to early engagement with both Fórsa and Unite.”
Last Friday, CHC Ireland, which currently operates the contract on behalf of the Department of Transport and Irish Coast Guard, announced ‘safety stand downs’ at the four search and rescue bases at Shannon, Sligo, Waterford and Dublin, over concerns for the health and wellbeing of staff.
CHC said there had been a lack of confirmation regarding the continuity of employment under transfer of undertakings regulations and that this has led to elevated levels of stress among staff.
Last month, the union which represents pilots and winch crew at the Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue Aviation Service, said it was seeking assurances from the government over the transfer of staff under the new contract.
In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said it will facilitate, support, and expects to see, an orderly and seamless transfer of operations, adding that the transition will be a gradual process with the new aviation service being introduced on a phased basis over the next 24 months.