A search-and-rescue crewman with the UK’s Bristow Helicopters claims he is being “unceremoniously dumped” from his job after the injuries he sustained over the years make it impossible for him to work. John Boulton, 47, a winchman based at Sumburgh in the Shetland Isles, plans to sue the company for compensation.
Under an agreement that Boulton’s union, BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association), has with Bristow, he could in theory receive a compensation package amounting to four times his basic annual salary plus other entitlements. However, this is being denied to him because, the company said, his inability to work is due to the cumulative results of several accidents over his 14 years on SAR operations, rather than to one dramatic event. Winchmen suffer regular minor injuries during rescues, which often take place from small boats and, more often than not, in rough seas.
“I am deeply hurt by the company’s attitude,” Boulton said. “We risk life and limb time after time, year after year, and because my injuries eventually made it impossible for me to do my job, the company decided not to deal fairly with me but to unceremoniously dump me.”
Besides losing his job and being denied the compensation package, Boulton will lose his company-provided home on the Scottish island.
A Bristow spokesman said, “We have supported Mr. Boulton through his health difficulties since they first became apparent to the company more than a year ago, and unfortunately they have not been resolved. We have looked at options for him continuing with the company in a non-flying role, but without success. He has now left the company with his full entitlement and an agreement to meet his relocation expenses to anywhere in the UK.”