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Security for Search & Rescue staff must be guaranteed – Doherty

8th September 2023 - Regina Doherty

Securing the continuity terms and conditions of Ireland’s Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter crews must be guaranteed, amid increased concerns surrounding the awarding of the SAR contract to Bristow Ltd, commencing in July 2025, according to a Fine Gael Senator.


Senator Regina Doherty, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Transport, said: “Since the awarding of the contract to Bristow in Ireland this year, staff have sought guarantees that they will still have jobs following the handover, but to no avail.


“I think it’s clear from the get-go that the concerns of staff reps of the current operator, CHC Ireland, as well as officials from Fórsa and IALPA who have written to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to outline those concerns, have been completely ignored over the past few weeks.


“Under EU TUPE Regulations, a new employer must take on the employees on the same terms and conditions as the original employer in the event of a transfer of business. That shouldn’t be up for discussion, but yet, our SAR staff have been told nothing that would put their fears to rest.


“SAR staff have sought guarantees from the Department of Transport that the 85 coast guard pilots and winch operators will remain in employment once the service transfers to Bristow.


In response to a letter sent by Fórsa, the Minister outlined all the “opportunities” that Bristow will bring to the Irish Coast Guard, before effectively cleaning his Department’s hands of “involvement or knowledge on the details” of transfer or recruitment of SAR personnel.


“We’re being told that the Department of Transport – who awarded the contract to Bristow, did nothing to secure the transition of employment of the people who have been keeping us safe for donkey’s years.

It should never have had to come to this.


“I think it’s imperative that officials from the Department of Transport appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to answer questions; not for our sake, but to provide certainty to the 85 employees whose jobs are on the line. I have written to the Committee Chair to ask that the Minister and his officials be invited”, concluded Senator Doherty.

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