London, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via GWYN TOPHAM/The Guardian
Pilots employed by the UK’s national air carrier British Airways (BA) have voted to go on strike next month in a dispute over pay and working conditions, according to the Guardian newspaper yesterday, causing travel disruption to holidaymakers and business people.
The strike is scheduled for a total of three days on the 9th, 10th and 27th of September 2019 after talks between the airline’s management and BALPA (British Airline Pilots’ Association), a union which represents BA’s pilots, failed amid a long-running dispute over salaries. BA have said that the industrial action will wreck the travel plans of ‘tens of thousands’ of their passengers. BA had proposed a three-year offer of an 11.5% pay rise, but BALPA rejected the deal. The union organised a ballot of its members, and 93% voted in favour of the strike, which could cost BA GBP £40 million (USD $49.2 million) a day.
According to BALPA, pilots were getting a raw deal of BA’s pay structure offer as they had already accepted previous cuts to salaries, pensions and annual leave when BA was struggling in recent years, but now the airline was drawing in massive profits of GBP £2 billion (USD $2.5 billion) per annum and this was not trickling down to the cockpit.
On the news that the strike will go ahead, the airline’s CEO Alex Cruz told the Guardian: “The blame lies squarely at the door of the pilots’ union, Balpa. I personally believe BA pilots are the best in the world … But I think they have been very badly served by the union.” Cruz called the strike unnecessary, sad and disappointing.
A BA captain earns an average of GBP £167,000 and, with allowances and bonuses, would pass £200,000 per year after the three-year pay deal, Cruz said.
BA is now contacting its customers who will be affected by the three-day walkout to rearrange flight dates and encouraged passengers to rebook themselves online. Cruz warned flyers that cancellations of BA flights out of the UK’s airports were inevitable. According to the newspaper, BA plans to kick start a contingency plan involving plane codeshares with other airlines and hiring stand-in captains and cabin crew to minimise travel disruption as much as possible. An attempt by BA to rule the strike invalid via British courts earlier this month was rejected.
“#BritishAirways”, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BritishAirways&src=trend_click
“British Airways pilots to strike for three days in September” – Gwyn Topham, The Guardian/Guardian News & Media Limited (23 August 2019) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/aug/23/british-airways-pilots-to-strike-for-three-days-in-september