The Minister for Transport is being urged to ensure that the employment conditions of existing Irish Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter crews and their ground based colleagues are protected as the handover from CHC Ireland to Bristow Ireland takes place.
The Department of Transport has awarded the new Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue Aviation Services contract to Bristow Ireland, a subsidiary of Bristow Group Ltd, which will receive €1 billion 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.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe said: “As a country, we are forever indebted to the SAR teams across Ireland who put their own lives in danger to rescue others.
They carry out work that only a select few are cut out for and not always with a positive outcome – it’s something that we take for granted and we must commend them for what they do. I am calling on the Minister for Transport to ensure that the Protection of Employees on Transport of Undertakings Regulations 2003 is applied to this handover.”
“It is vital that the existing hard-fought terms and conditions of crews are not compromised during this handover between the outgoing and incoming companies.
Our SAR crews here in Clare have responded to injured residents, tourists, searches for missing people and other high-risk operations. They fly in all conditions to help the people of Ireland and anybody who is here who needs their assistance.
“I think it is vital now that we step up to the plate and support them at their hour of need, just as they have done so many times for everybody else,” Deputy Crowe added.