British Airways pilots have accepted a pay cut as part of a package of measures to save the airline £26 million.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said its members voted by more than nine to one in favour of the 2.6 percent pay cut, as well as a reduction of 20 percent in some allowances, as well as accepting some changes in operations. But as part of the deal, pilots would receive shares in the company in three years time worth £13m.
The announcement comes ahead of today’s AGM, which is set to be a tense affair with union activists planning to use live lemmings to stage a protest against cost cuts that include up to 3,700 job cuts.
Jim McAuslan, general secretary of Balpa, said: “This is an unaccustomed position for a union to be in but we have pressure-tested the company’s trading position and cost base and are satisfied that this step is necessary to help BA recover its position as one of the world’s most successful airlines.
“Our members have backed that judgment and are leading the way in contributing to the turn-round plan. The package of measures will be implemented as soon as BA demonstrates delivery of the cost saving targets across the whole company.”
Union activists said they will parade 12 lemmings in two cages outside the annual meeting in central London, and will hold up placards saying: “British Airways deserves better than to be led by lemmings”, and: “Willie, time to head to the departure gate?”
It emerged on Friday that cabin crew had offered to take a similar 2.6 percent pay cut and a salary freeze until February 2011 to help the airline fight off record losses, which slumped to a £401 million last year, its heaviest since 1982.
A deadline for agreeing about 3,700 job cuts and a two-year pay freeze as well as changes to conditions passed without a deal on June 30 and talks are continuing to try to break the deadlock.
BA said: “We are pleased that BA pilots have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the cost saving package. It involves a combination of reduced pay and increased productivity.
“Our engineers have also already voted in favour of changes to their working practices. Talks with our remaining trade unions, facilitated by the conciliation service Acas, are taking place.”