British Airways strike could ruin summer holiday plans

Pilots’ union to send out ballots for industrial action next week


Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 20 June 2019 07:47 BST
British Airways staff call for a formal strike ballot

British Airways passengers could face August disruption after three unions rejected a pay offer and one announced a strike ballot.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), Unite and the GMB union have been in joint talks with BA over a pay claim, together with profit-sharing and share benefits, since November 2018.

It is the first time that unions representing pilots, cabin crew, ground staff and engineers have joined forces in negotiations.

They have rejected BA’s offer as “too little, too late” when set against a backdrop of record profits, saying: “It also fails to address the fundamental principle of fairness by denying employees a reasonable share of the success they have helped produce.”

Last year British Airways made an operating profit of €1.95bn (£1.73bn).

The airline's most recent offer was made at the end of May. It is believed to have involved an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

Balpa launched an informal consultation on the proposal which, it says, resulted in 96 per cent of pilots calling for a strike ballot.

The union has issued formal notice to BA of a ballot on industrial action. Balpa is posting out ballots on 26 June. The closing date will be 22 July.

Were the members to vote for a strike, the earliest it could begin would be 5 August.

Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, told The Independent: “We’ll be working hard to resolve this because the last thing the pilots want to do is disrupt people’s holidays.“

But he added: “For the pilots that Balpa represents, it is quite simple: BA has been enormously profitable, and the employees should have a fair share of that success which, after all, they produce for the company.”

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We are extremely disappointed that the pilots' union, Balpa, has raised the prospect of a ballot for industrial action.

“We urge them to join us for mediation with the conciliation service Acas, to reach an agreement and protect hard-working families planning their summer breaks.

“We believe our pay and benefits for pilots are among the best in the industry, with around 1,000 applications from pilots who want to move to us from other airlines every year.”

A Unite spokesperson said: “Unite reps will be having further discussions with BA and meeting in the coming days to discuss their next steps. These next steps could include a consultative ballot on any revised pay offer, or a ballot for industrial action.”

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Separately, the Unite union has warned that a row over cabin crew rosters could trigger a strike at BA’s Gatwick base.

In 2017 British Airways experienced long spells of strikes by cabin crew belonging to the Mixed Fleet operation at Heathrow.

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