The latest group of British Airways employees to threaten a strike in an effort to get salary increases from the struggling airline are the airline’s pilots.
As a result of the Heathrow-based airline’s refusal to agree to the pilots’ demands for a sizable salary increase, the BALPA pilots union is under pressure from its members to call a strike ballot.
Within the airline, there is a prevalent perception that management won’t take pay negotiations seriously until employees threaten to leave. British Airways recently found more funding for check-in staff after 700 ground staff threatened to go on strike during the height of the summer vacation.
After workers unanimously approved the use of strike action in a consultative vote, the same compensation agreement was subsequently extended to thousands of additional employers, including engineers and cabin staff.
In case British Airways declines to agree to the pilots’ demands to reverse pay cuts from the pandemic era, the same kind of non-binding poll might be used to determine whether or not they are willing to walk out. The impetus to take drastic measures would increase if a vote in favor of industrial action were to pass.
The last strike by British Airways pilots occurred in 2019 and lasted two days. It cost the airline more than €137 million and caused at least 2,325 flight cancellations. The airline’s pilots went on strike for the first time in more than 40 years.
However, the union agreed to a temporary 20% wage cut for its members at the beginning of the pandemic. Although the salary decrease has already been reduced to 8%, it won’t likely be reversed for another 12 months.
“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”.
In a meeting with BALPA union representatives last week, chief executive Sean Doyle was informed that only “quantifiable efforts would be acceptable” to end the current dispute. The carrier has not yet made such an offer.
According to the union, the wage reductions are now “unwarranted,” and compensation increases are now required due to growing inflation.
A BA spokesperson says the airline is “committed to continuing talks with the union.”