Unite has called for a public inquiry into the safety of the Super Puma helicopters operating in the North Sea, following the fatal accident last month which claimed four lives.
Unite moved an emergency motion at the TUC Congress today (Monday 9 September) which called for full Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) into the spate of accidents that have plagued the Super Puma helicopters in recent years.
The motion demanded that all L2 Super Pumas remain grounded until declared fit and safe; that members are supported if they refuse to travel in the Super Pumas – and that the helicopter operators and oil companies should invest in new fleet of helicopters.
Vice chair of the Unite national executive, Mark Lyon told delegates that the Super Puma was bringing back to shore workers on 23 August, who were looking forward to getting back home to their families and friends, but four of them never made it.
He said: “They died when the aircraft went down – another sobering reminder about the precarious nature of working life in the UK offshore industry.
“In 2009, 16 people lost their lives in a tragedy off the coast of Aberdeen – and the Fatal Accident Investigation has still not taken place.
“The families of those killed in 2009 want answers and closure to their grief - Congress, it’s a disgrace that the FAI has not started.
“They want to know what happened, they want to know how to make sure this didn’t happen again – but it did.
“Our unions want a public inquiry - similar to the inquiry into the Piper Alpha tragedy 25 years ago. We want to know why these helicopters have had five incidents in four years.
“We recognise there are no simple solutions – there are key issues about health and safety and we know that you cannot ground 50% of the fleet forever – so there has to be some answers.
“The only way for the industry to demonstrate that safety is of paramount importance is to hold an inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened and we need to examine all issues connected to travel to and from work on helicopters.
“Our unions have said that we will support our members if they refuse to get aboard on one of these helicopters until they are given a clean bill of health."
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.