British Airways pilots have voted overwhelmingly for strike action. Such action would be the first for nearly 30 years and would effectively ground BA worldwide.
The dispute centres on BA’s proposed new subsidiary airline OpenSkies which will fly passengers from mainland European capitals to the USA. BALPA supports the growth of BA and the launch of the OpenSkies service but opposes BA’s intention to use lower paid pilots recruited from outside. BA plans to keep their wages low even when OpenSkies becomes profitable. BA pilots also fear that BA management will use the lower paid OpenSkies pilots as a trojan horse to force down their own pay and conditions.
‘We have seen it happening around the world,’ said Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association which represents over 3,000 of BA’s pilots. ‘BA pilots are determined not to let the same thing happen to them and to their families. That is why BALPA has drawn a line in the sand.’
BA pilots voted 86% in favour of strike action in a massive 90% poll. There was a huge amount of debate during the ballot with both BALPA and BA management encouraging members to vote. Both sides knew the importance of the decision.
‘And BA pilots are saying loud and clear that they will not tolerate what has happened elsewhere,’ Jim McAuslan added.
‘What BA pilots want is to have one pilot community for both the mainline and the OpenSkies subsidiary, with the same professional standards, equal opportunities for pilots to move from mainline to OpenSkies and from OpenSkies to mainline, fair promotion prospects and a safeguarding of BA mainline pilots pay and conditions by the company giving us binding agreements.’