Joint venture to strengthen helicopter safety on both sides of the North Sea

fredag 20. desember 2019

«We agree to formalize a collaboration between the trade unions in Norway and the UK that will contribute to increased helicopter safety throughout the North Sea» says Henrik Solvorn Fjeldsbø, National Officer in Industri Energi and chair of LO’s helicopter committee.

Representatives from Norwegian and UK unions met this week in Aberdeen to discuss helicopter safety. Photo: Atle Espen Helgesen/Industri Energi

Industri Energi met with Norsk Flygerforbund, Norsk Helikopteransattes Forbund and the British unions RMT, Balpa and Unite in Aberdeen on December 19th.

«It was time to gather all the organizations that have a direct interest in helicopter safety, on both sides of the North Sea, to a joint meeting to see if we could succeed in establishing a forum where we can meet regularly to share lessons learnt, come up with common proposals and requirements aimed at the helicopter industry and oil companies» says Henrik Fjeldsbø.

A strong voice internationally

Fjeldsbø points out that the Norwegian and British pilots are already cooperating across the border, as are the technicians and oil workers. What is new is that all these three groups come together for a joint effort to improve helicopter safety throughout the North Sea basin.

«We face the same challenges. The same companies operate on both sides of the border. We fly the same helicopter types, following the same procedures, under the same weather conditions and so on. Therefore, it is time to step up efforts to improve the safety of our members across the border.»

He does not hide the fact that there are cultural differences between the countries, but emphasizes that if we succeed in a joint effort on helicopter safety in Norway and the UK, such a forum will be a very strong voice internationally and will make a difference on safety related issues.

«We will concentrate our efforts on what is our common interest, namely that everyone should come home safely,» he says.

Common interest to all members

Already at the first meeting, it was agreed to establish a formalized cooperation across the border in the North Sea. Photo: Atle Espen Helgesen

Henrik Fjeldsbø experiences the first meeting as very positive.

«The goal for this meeting was to bring together the different unions, get to know each other and exchange our views on what challenges we see in relation to offshore helicopter safety. Already at the first meeting we agreed to establish a formal collaboration with three annual meetings. And I personally feel that the British unions are very positive about such a cooperation» he says.

Jake Molloy of the British Oil Workers Union (RMT) hopes a cross-border collaboration will help balance various interests within the helicopter business, which he believes is largely governed by commercial interests in the oil companies.

While helicopter pilot Jens Kuil of the British Airline Pilots Associations (Balpa), stresses that a joint effort will improve workers’ ability to raise their concerns about the industry and opportunities to provide input.

«I think such a cooperation will benefit the safety of all our members,» he says.

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