Virgin pilots to vote on strike action

17 May 2011 by BusinessTraveller

Just days after an agreement was reached in the BA cabin staff dispute, the British Airline Pilots’ Association has announced it will ballot Virgin Atlantic members on possible strike action.

In a statement BALPA said that “Despite marathon talks that started in 2010 and despite the involvement of the Government’s conciliation service ACAS, pilots in Virgin Atlantic have been unable to reach agreement with the airline on an overdue pay and conditions settlement”.

BALPA represents over 85 per cent of Virgin’s 750 pilots, and general secretary Jim McAuslan said that Virgin pilots “have not had a pay increase since 2008”.

“During the tough years pilots have made sacrifices to help the business on the basis that fair pay would return,” said McAuslan. “But that hasn’t proved to be the case. The company is offering pilots an increase this year of 4 per cent, with 3 per cent next year and 3 per cent in 2013.

“The 4 per cent does not reflect the fact that pilots have not had a rise since 2008, and the proposed 3 per cent increases would mean that with inflation running at 5 per cent and likely to remain high, pilots would, if they accepted these increases, be in effect voting themselves years of wage cuts.

“We do not want a dispute but to date there has been no meaningful movement by the company and even the involvement of ACAS has not broken the logjam.

“With no-where left to go we have been left with no alternative but to give Virgin management notice of a ballot of Virgin Atlantic pilots for industrial action.”

The ballot of members will start on May 24, and will last four weeks. In response to the news Virgin Atlantic has released the following statement:

“Virgin Atlantic can confirm that it has received a communication from the pilots’ union BALPA of its intention to commence a ballot of the airline’s pilots for potential industrial action.

“The company has made a fair, affordable and sustainable offer that is in line with the rest of the industry and we continue to be open to dialogue.

“Virgin Atlantic would like to reassure passengers that all of its flight schedule continues to operate as normal.”

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Report by Mark Caswell

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