Pilots are to become the latest group of workers at British Airways to threaten strike action in a bid to win pay rises from the embattled airline.
The Heathrow-based airline has so far refused to give in to the demands of pilots for a bumper pay rise so the BALPA pilots union is being put under pressure by its members to hold a strike ballot.
There is a general belief within the airline that management won’t take pay negotiations seriously until workers threaten to walk out. In recent weeks, British Airways found extra money for check-in workers after 700 ground staff threatened to stage a strike at the height of the summer holidays.
The same pay deal was then extended to thousands of other employers, including engineers and cabin crew after workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a consultative ballot.
The same type of non-binding ballot could be used to gauge the willingness of pilots to go on strike should British Airways refuse to meet their demands to reverse pandemic-era pay cuts. A vote in favour of industrial action would pile pressure on the airline to dig deep.
British Airways pilots last went on strike in 2019 in a two-day walkout that cost the airline more than €137 million and resulted in at least 2,325 cancelled flights. It was the first strike by pilots at the airline for more than 40 years.
At the start of the pandemic, however, the union agreed to a temporary pay cut of 20 per cent for its members. The pay cut has since been reduced to 8 per cent but a reversal of those cuts isn’t expected for another year.
“BA seems to ignore you until you issue a ballot, is the sentiment among members,” a union official told the Telegraph. “Within BALPA we don’t usually like to do that. We would rather take a grown-up approach. But we are under enormous pressure. And the longer this goes on, the harder it gets”.
Chief executive Sean Doyle was warned during a meeting with representatives of the BALPA union last week that only “quantifiable actions would be acceptable” to resolve the current dispute. No such offer has yet been made by the carrier.
Officially, the union says the pay cuts are now “unwarranted” and given rising inflation, a pay rise is now necessary.
A BA spokesperson says the airline is “committed to continuing talks with the union.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.