British Airways Pilots Offer To Call Off Upcoming Strikes


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There’s been a lot of unrest within the British Airways workforce in 2019 but while the union(s) representing the airline’s cabin crew and ground workers have accepted deals offered to them by management (eventually), British Airways pilots have rejected all pay proposals put to them and have voted to strike.

With British Airways pilots set to walk out on strike in just 4 days’ time (the first strike dates are 9 and 10 September) the union representing their interests has today said that its members would be prepared to call off the strike in British Airways management returns to the negotiating table.

The General Secretary of BALPA (the union representing the overwhelming majority of BA pilots) has been quoted as saying the following:

Our members’ resolve is very strong and they remain very angry with BA, but they also want to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a resolution to their dispute.
 
Avoiding strike action and agreeing a deal with their pilots surely must be the desired outcome for British Airways.
 
We urge BA to join us to discuss the new proposal – which shows pilots are willing to be flexible but still stand united in getting a better deal.

BALPA has put forward its new proposal for talks in a letter to BA’s CEO (Alex Cruz) so we now have to wait and see if anything comes of this latest development.

Thoughts

Firstly, it’s important to note that BALPA is only suggesting that it may call off the strikes set for 9 and 10 September – no mention has been made of the strike set for 27 September – so the union is still keeping its options very open.

It’s also worth noting that although BA’s pilots are in a very strong position (the airline’s fleet will almost certainly be grounded on days when BALPA’s pilots walk out), they’re not carrying the support of the public with them anymore.

While the pilots were negotiating with BA as part of an alliance with the cabin crews they were protected from any public anger by the fact that the British Airways cabin crews are almost universally seen as being vastly underpaid by the airline.

Image courtesy of British Airways

With the cabin crews no longer in dispute with British Airways that protection has gone and the pilots are left having to explain why they’re prepared to disrupt so many people’s journeys when the majority of travelers don’t appear to think they’re particularly poorly paid right now – British Airways pilots will be incredibly unpopular if they go ahead with their proposed strikes.

Let’s not forget that it won’t just be travelers booked to fly on 9 and 10 September who will be impacted by any strike action that takes place on those dates – the strike will ensure that numerous British Airways aircraft will be out of position come the morning of 11 September, so flights on that day will almost certainly be canceled and the effects of any pilot action could well still be seen into Thursday 12 September (a day on which I happen to have two British Airways flights!).

Bottom Line

If the pilots walk out it will undoubtedly cost British Airways a LOT of money but I don’t honestly believe that the pilots actually want to walk out. I think that they’re almost certainly prepared to take any face-saving deal that British Airways offers them at this point and that’s what this olive branch is all about.

2 COMMENTS

  1. BA has a reputation for being such tightwads that they’d squeeze a silver dollar until the eagle screams, but are the pilots really underpaid?

  2. Public opinion in the UK changes every day. One only has to look at the Brexit chaos and changing public perception.

    More importantly, Messrs. Walsh and Cruz are getting away with ruining what was once a world famous airline and driving staff morale down.

    As a frequent flyer on BA, I am very disappointed with everything I see. On flights, I speak with cabin crew members and give them words of encouragement because all too often you can see through their smiles to see how disillusioned they are. They don’t have to say anything for a frequent flyer to understand their feelings.

    The pilots accepted many reductions to their salary and benefits packages during the financial crisis. There is public support for them despite what you have said, because the British public does recognise their right to ask for a reinstatement of the benefits they lost during the financial crisis.

    Nevertheless, if the strike goes ahead, then there will be all the headlines about the difficulties that passengers face, despite BA already cancelling flights, and then public perception will definitely change.

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