Strike curtails Norsk operations

 - October 9, 2007, 9:04 AM

After a government-appointed arbitrator stopped discussions on May 9, mechanics at Norwegian offshore operator Norsk Helikopter went on strike, curtailing most
of the company’s operations. Disagreement over pay increases and other contract items led to the labor walkout.

The mechanic’s union, Norsk Helikopter Teknisk Forening (NHTF), is seeking a 20-percent salary increase over two years and the replacement of overtime with buy-in of days. The company’s offer includes a 10-percent salary increase over two years (6 percent this year), not basing pay increases on the consumer price index and not adhering to the seniority list in the event of layoffs, according to Ivar Eie, managing director. Eie added that there has already been a company-wide salary increase of about 5 percent this year.

As a consequence of the strike, Norsk Helikopter has canceled an average of 15 offshore flights a day, seven from its main base at Sola Airport near Stavanger and eight from Flesland Airport near Bergen. Of the company’s 146 employees, 80 (35 mechanics and 45 pilots) have been laid off. Only one offshore crew change is still operating: a wet-leased Bristow Helicopter Super Puma out of Bronnoysund, flying one or two trips a day since May 1. CHC Helikopter Service has taken over most of Norsk Helikopter’s other flights.