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Towards the end of last year, the main unions representing BA’s pilots, cabin crew and ground crews came together in a rare show of solidarity to negotiate with the airlines for better pay and conditions for their members.
Negotiations haven’t been going well at all and last month we heard that the main pilots’ union (BALPA) was preparing to ballot its members on strike action.
From a customer viewpoint this was very bad news.
Back in January, an indicative ballot of British Airways employees saw an incredible 93% of them saying that they would be in favor of a ballot on industrial action so it’s more than likely that any vote on strike action would get significant support.
As planned, ballot papers were sent out to the overwhelming majority of British Airways pilots on 26 June and voting is scheduled to end on 22 July….but that’s not the end of the story.
As the BA pilots continue to cast their votes for/against industrial action the management team from British Airways and union representatives have continued negotiations and, just recently, the two sides have been using ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) to mediate the discussions.
There has always been a possibility that the continuing negotiations would offer up a satisfactory resolution for all sides and that the prospect of industrial action would be averted (regardless of the ongoing pilots’ ballot).
Unfortunately that possibility seems further away than ever following this update from the pilots’ union:According to BALPA, the British Airways management team haven’t come forward with any new proposals and have shown little interest in shifting from their current stance so, as far as the pilots are concerned, there’s no point prolonging the negotiations.
That’s not what anyone traveling with British Airways this summer will want to hear.
If there is no further movement from either side I fully expect the result of the pilots’ ballot to show overwhelming support for industrial action.
While BA may be able to work around a cabin crew strike (they’ve done so before) there’s no getting around the fact that a pilots’ strike would ground a significant proportion of the airline’s fleet as you can’t just ship new pilots in from outside.
No pilots = no flights. It’s as simple as that.
With the pilots’ ballot ending on 22 July and with BALPA legally required to give BA 2 weeks notice of industrial action the earliest we’re likely to see disruptions occurring is around 5/6 August – right in the middle of one of the busiest travel seasons in Europe.
I still think there’s hope that industrial action can be averted but right now we’re closer to seeing a British Airways pilots’ strike than we have been for a few years – good luck everybody!