Describing negotiations as “bitterly disappointing”, the general secretary of the BALPA pilots union, Brian Strutton said last night that his organisation is “no further forward” in talks with British Airways to agree a pay deal. British Airways and the pilots union had been meeting at a government-run mediation service in an attempt to hammer out a deal and avert possible strike action.
“It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at ACAS we are still no further forward,” Strutton said of the talks.
“BALPA tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing. Until BA changes it’s attitude there is little prospect of talks resuming,” he continued.
Pilots at the Heathrow-based airline are currently being balloted on industrial action with the poll set to close on 22nd July. Under British law, the union would have to give BA at least seven days notice of any strike planned if pilots vote in favour. That means the earliest possible date that pilots could stage a walkout is the 30th of July.
The latest rumours suggest pilots may be planning a symbolic 24-hour strike in the run up to BA’s centenary celebrations and at the height of the Summer holiday getaway in a bid to force the airline back to the negotiating table.
Protracted negotiations on a multi-year pay deal have been ongoing since November 2018 when BALPA joined forces with two other unions who represent cabin crew and ground staff. British Airways tabled a final offer last week that included an 11.5% pay rise spread over three years, as well as a £750 bonus and the introduction of what was called a “gain share scheme”.
Crucially, British Airways agreed that the pay rise would not be linked to increased productivity or efficiency savings.
The final offer has been described as “industry-leading” by the Unite trade union and cabin crew are being encouraged to vote in favour of the deal. But this is where things start getting complicated – the lower-paid ‘Mixed Fleet’ cabin crew are said to have dismissed the deal and are seeking further talks with the airline.
It’s also unclear whether cabin crew in other fleets will back the Unite-negotiated deal – the big question is why the Unite union doesn’t think it can do any better but the pilots union have already rejected the same pay deal?
In a statement, British Airways told us they are “disappointed that BALPA has walked away from conciliation with ACAS yesterday evening.” The statement continued:
“We remain open and flexible to find a solution to protect hard-working families looking forward to their summer breaks.”
On Monday, British Airways was told it would face a possible fine of over £183 million for a massive customer data breach that was unearthed last year. The fine is the largest ever imposed by the Information Commissioners Office under European GDPR regulations but the airline has already indicated that it is likely to appeal the finding.