Pilots for British Airways have voted in favour of strike action with 93% of votes backing a walkout on a turnout of 90% of the roughly 4,000 pilots represented by the BALPA union. So far, the union has not set a date for when a strike might take place but pilots must give at least two weeks notice of any walkout.
The ballot closed at midday this afternoon and members, along with the airline were notified shortly afterwards.
British Airways plans to obtain an injunction against the union and is attending the High Court in London tomorrow morning. The airline is expected to argue that there were irregularities with the voting process in its bid to win an injunction and stop a strike from taking place.
“This strong result demonstrates the resolve of BA pilots, and shows BA that it must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted,” commented BALPA’s general secretary, Brian Strutton.
“Sadly three days of ACAS (mediations) talks have not moved the company’s position one iota. Settlement of this dispute is in BA’s hands,” he continued.
Pilots joined two other unions in a joint pay bid late last year but broke away from talks last month. Two other unions who represent ground staff and cabin crew are expected to accept an offer that promises an 11.5% pay rise over three years.
However, one group of cabin crew, known as ‘Mixed Fleet’ have also rejected the deal but have not, as yet, started a formal strike ballot.
“We do not wish to inconvenience our customers which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November,” Strutton said in response to concerns that a walkout could hit passengers at the height of the summer holidays.
“It is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months.”
He claims that the cost of meeting the union’s demands would be “significantly” less than a single day of strike action. Talks, however, have now been put on the back burner because of BA’s attempt at obtaining an injunction according to Strutton
It’s not clear what BALPA would do if British Airways wins an injunction. The union could start a new ballot process, restart talks with the airline or put the current pay offer to the vote of its members.
According to industry sources, around 500 pilots at the airline are not represented by BALPA and would be expected to work as normal if a strike does actually go ahead.