Pilots at Bmi are voting on a motion of no confidence in chief executive Nigel Turner following a row over pay.
The British Airline Pilots Association has accused Bmi of dipping into the bank accounts of pilots given pay increases, and is now threatening legal action.
It accuses the company of taking back £100,000 in total, an average of £250 each from around 400 pilots.Bmi denies clawing back any money, although confirmed it is freezing employee pay this year.
BALPA General secretary Jim McAuslan said the rise due on January 1 was the final instalment in a three-year pay deal that had been agreed to avert a strike. “This is as serious a situation as I have come across,” he added.
A union spokesman said: “Our forum for Bmi pilots has produced 29 pages of examples of people getting the agreed pay rise through in their pay cheques and then seeing it disappear from their accounts.”
The union said that it had been advised that, under the terms of direct debit payments, there are circumstances when funds can be removed.
The spokesman said: “The fact an employer may have a pre-signed direct debit does not mean they can use it for withdrawing money correctly given in a pay deal.”
Bmi said in a statement that it has informed staff they would not be getting their increase to keep the potential number of redundancies to a minimum.
On the subject of taking back the pay increase, the company added: ‘Not only would that be illegal, it is also something we physically cannot do. Money once paid cannot be removed from any employee’s bank account without prior permission.