BA pilots to strike on September dates
Flights to and from the UK are set to be cancelled next month after the British pilots’ union announced strikes yesterday as part of a long-running dispute over pay.
The British Airline Pilots Association put British Airways on notice of its plans for members to take industrial action on September 9, 10 and 27.
One source, who said he was due to fly from London’s Gatwick Airport to Bermuda on September 10, was notified yesterday that the flight had been cancelled.
The union warned the three days could cost the airline almost $150 million.
BA claimed the industrial action was “unjustifiable” and said it was working to limit disruption to passengers.
Balpa said it had proposed a number of packages that would have avoided a strike during several days of talks with the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
The union added: “BA did not accept any of these packages and it is clear following discussions with members over the last few days that BA’s most recent offer will not gain the support of anywhere near a majority of its pilots.
“In these circumstances, with a 93 per cent vote in favour of taking industrial action, and with no prospect of any further meaningful talks, we have no choice but to call this action.”
Balpa estimated every day of strike action would cost BA almost $50 million.
It said the “gap” between the airline’s position and that of the union’s was about $6 million.
The union said: “Our proposal remains on the table should BA wish to reach agreement prior to strike action.
“British Airways is an extremely profitable and successful company and pilots have been proud to play their part in that.”
It added: “Over recent years BA pilots have made sacrifice after sacrifice to assist the company such as taking a pay cut, productivity increases, closing the final salary pension scheme, giving up annual leave days, a new rostering system, and reducing flying pay.
“In what is British Airways’ centenary year, this will be the very first time its pilots will go on strike.
“They do so as a last resort and with enormous frustration at the way the business is now being run.
“Our ballot is valid until January, and more dates may be announced until such time as this matter is resolved.”
BA said that a proposed pay deal of 11.5 per cent over three years was fair and had been accepted by the members of other trade unions, which represented nearly 90 per cent of employees including engineers, cabin crew and groundstaff.
A spokeswoman for the airline said last night: “It is unacceptable that the Balpa union is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of BA customers with this unjustifiable strike action.”
She added: “We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, Balpa has decided on this reckless course of action.
“BA is now making changes to the global schedule. BA will do everything possible to get as many people away on their journeys as possible.”
The airline was “exploring options” to supplement its fleet with aircraft and crew from other companies.
It was also working with partner airlines to schedule larger aircraft to take the maximum number of customers
The spokeswoman said: “In addition to basic pay, pilots also receive annual pay increments and regular flying allowances.
“BA continues to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect customers’ travel plans.”
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