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The result of the British Airways pilots vote on industrial action is not looking good ….

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A quick extra article today to share this bit of news.

There is currently a wave of industrial unrest brewing at British Airways.  This is being driven by the strong financial performance of the business, which is not being reflected in pay or bonuses.

A number of votes are underway across the various unions involved.  BALPA, the British Airline Pilots Association, has just released the results of its ballot and it is not pretty:

Balpa supporting industrial action

Question 1:

Do you accept BA’s revised pay offer?

Yes – 1%

No – 99%

Question 2:

If we cannot secure an acceptable offer through negotation, do you wish BALPA to conduct an official ballot for industrial action, including strike action?

Yes – 96%

No – 4%

Turnout was 89% which is very high as these things go.

According to the last set of figures I could find, BALPA represents about 90% of BA pilots so any industrial action will effectively ground the airline.

British Airways put out this statement in response:

We continue open discussions with our trade unions. Our pay proposal is fair, reasonable and reflects typical pay awards given by other companies in the UK.

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Comments (59)

  • Bill says:

    Good luck to the BALPA negotiating team

  • Memesweeper says:

    “Turnout was 89% which is very high as these things go.”

    Unprecedented is the term I’d use!

    • Mel says:

      ‘Turnout’? I doubt that anyone had to trudge to their local polling booth.
      ‘Response’ might be somewhat more accurate.

  • Sarah says:

    O/T slightly but I have flights booked with Jet Airways from Manchester-Amsterdam-Delhi on 30 March. They are clearly in a bad way and have been for some time but didn’t know that before flights were booked. Any advice?

    • Luke says:

      Have you got proper travel insurance? They may cover you for abandonment etc however some may argue their failure is predictable with lots of recent media coverage etc so check with your travel insurer.

      • Jonathan says:

        Predictable from a legal standpoint I think would be very hard for them to prove.

        You can get insurance at any point up until you claim. So if in doubt buy a single policy with airline bankruptcy for the trip (before they formerly go into administration)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Were the flights paid for using a credit card?

      They should provide some cover. Getting new flights for that price might not be possible but better than losing all the £

      • Bonglim says:

        I had a question about credit cards in this situation. Not sure if anyone will now.
        The rule is (afaik)
        That the card company is equally liable if paid for using credit.
        So if there is a problem, the card company surely are not just able to refund you? If abandoned the card company would have the same liabiities as the existing airline – which means alternative transport and maybe even EU compensation.

        Is that not right? (probably never been tested)

  • FC99 says:

    “This is being driven by the strong financial performance of the business, which is not being reflected in pay or bonuses.”

    Sounds like a good enough reason to me.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Not being reflected in what they are already paid or what their pay rises are?

      What we don’t know is what their base pay is like to the rest of the industry? I imagine if it was below market they would all be looking for jobs elsewhere.

      Re bonus probably fair to ask for a better company performance related deal but remember you have to share the bad times aswell as the good.

      • Jonathan says:

        I think the frontline staff have more than shared the pain in the bad times (emergence of Mixed Fleet, pension scheme changes etc.) Surely if you’re told to suck up these changes to your T&C’s to help in the bad times then it’s fair you’re rewarded in the good times? Frankly I always feel sorry for BA’s customer facing staff having to bear the brunt of passenger frustration with filthy planes, no food etc. etc. to bolster the bottom line that only benefits the execs hidden away in Waterside.

      • FC99 says:

        When do staff at any company ever not “share the bad times” ?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          New staff may be paid less or staff may be cut but those still around very rarely take a pay cut.

          Bonuses can obviously have lots of criteria not every company has variable pots based on company aswell as personal performance. Some have different methods for different types/levels of staff.

      • FC99 says:

        “New staff may be paid less or staff may be cut but those still around very rarely take a pay cut.”

        If staff are cut then everyone else has to do more work. Whilst they might not see a reduction in their pay, pay per hour worked does go down.

      • flyguy777 says:

        We have shared in the bad times and dealt with cost cut after cost cut. We have been demoralised and witnessed our amazing airline go downhill fast.

        It’s more a case of them having to finally share in the good times with us!

  • JamesR says:

    When can we expect a strike to happen, in relation to historic timelines?

    • the_real_a says:

      About once every three years…

    • Richard M says:

      Yep, though I’m sure it’s being reflected in the pay and bonuses of the senior executives though

      • FC99 says:

        Yep. The people who were ultimately responsible for the data breach etc will be taking home big bonuses. How DARE the normal staff expect higher profits to be reflected in higher salaries and bonuses

    • Rob says:


  • Scallder says:

    I’m guessing they’ll plan to hit Easter weekend and the two May bank holidays as only need 14 days notice which would affect me both outbound and inbound 🙁

    Can’t blame the staff given how much IAG is raking in, just hope it doesn’t come to strikes…

    • JamesR says:

      Oh that will be fun. Will affect me outbound and inbound too. If Brexit didnt give enough travel concern, this is a nice bit of icing on the cake.

    • ChrisC says:

      That’s why some of the headlines are a little alarmist. There is no immediate prospect for any action.

      There will be another ballot before any industrial action takes place – the ballot result yesterday was basically a vote on having another vote.

      Personally I don’t think Easter is feasible for industrial action as the ballot period is 14 days and unions have to give 7 clear days notice. So that’s 3 weeks at a minimum plus before anything happens. And BALPA will want to negotiate in good faith for a period with BA so they can say “look we tried to negotiate for X weeks and they wouldn’t listen”

      • ChrisC says:

        Uodste as the law had changed in 2017.

        1 union has to give 7 days notice to BA that it is going to ballot. This includes who it is balloting and the question to be asked,

        2 14 days to hold the ballot given pilots will be out of th country for part of the time. It can be 7 but that is usually for static workers with a fixed work place

        3. 14 days notice (7 if BA agree) of any action.

        Given a couple of weeks negotiations before any if that then it’s 7-8 weeks minimum before anyone is going to be affected.

    • James says:

      All companies now take the p*ss out of the vast majority of their employees.
      Chaps at the top earn hundreds, sometimes thousands, of times that of the lower paid workers.

      What’s a fairly new cabin crew member on ?
      £1k per month……barely even outside of the 0% income tax band !! And the government has to subsidise those on such low pay with welfare.

      I would of course be fuming if my holiday or business deal was disrupted because of any action, however businesses are operating with fewer and fewer morals these days with the chaps at the top just laughing all the way to the bank.

      I absolutely am a capitalist at heart but things are going badly wrong when there is this level of pay disparity and hugely profitable businesses not operating within the spirit of tax law.

      • James says:

        After the Ponzi scheme stuff it gets to really interesting stuff.

      • Bonglim says:

        I think James’ points have some validity, but ultimately every job is just a reflection of:
        – The time / effort it takes to get skilled for that job
        – How few people can do that job
        – How much the individual ability affects the performance of the company
        – Overall supply V demand

        BA should pay more if their pay and conditions are worse than other airlines.
        But should not pay more if they already pay higher than other airlines just because it is successful (at making money)

        Does a receptionist at a branch of HSBC deserve more pay than a receptionist at my local vets (assuming their jobs are equally complicated) – just because HSBC makes massive profits this year?

        The approach of upping people’s pay just because the company is successful just means that during the next downturn in the economy, this company (with their inflated wages etc) are more at risk compared to their competitors.

        So ultimately the answer is to leave to other airlines, rather than strike – if the other airlines have better terms. The only people who should strike is where there is a total monopoly employer – so leaving to a competitor is not easy. A factory (or mine) that totally dominates the employment within a small town for example. Or if you were a nuclear physicist working in the only nuclear power station in your region. (although I am not sure I would like to see a nuclear power station strike!). I don’t know the entire job market for pilots, so you could argue that BA are in almost a monopoly position in London?

        At the same time, when struggling retrospectively changing pension schemes is also inappropriate.

  • journeyingjohn says:

    Given staff are treated only marginally better than the profit centres, sorry passengers and even cleaning / loading enough catering / servicing IFE and seating is too costly for the current board I personally hope this runs it’s course and the airline is grounded even if only for a couple of days.

    • JamesR says:

      …Said the man who probably wont be affected.

      • FC99 says:

        I’m booked on a flight over Easter so I probably will be affected but I fully agree with that post

      • journeyingjohn says:

        I’ve flown ABBA whenever there’s a choice because as a customer I too am fed up of the profiteering. There are alternatives and imho they’re better. I’ve yet to experience a dirty cabin, broken IFE or seating, failure to load adequate catering or other penny pinching with; AF, LH, EK, VS, QR or CX. My finance director isn’t unhappy with the 7% plus savings either.

        • Luke says:

          Likewise I’ve worked for the airline back in 2011 and yet only fly with them myself as pax when I travel and the dates likely will affect me however I want it to go ahead. Huge huge profits yet cabin crew for example are still on £12k basic salary. It’s unjustified.

  • Jonah says:

    What happens during a strike when you are a) on a redemption b) on a BA 241?

    • Scallder says:

      No different to you being on a paid ticket in the grand scheme of things…

      • Jonah says:

        Cool so they will stick you on a flight (any flight?) in the same cabin? Thanks btw.

        • Scallder says:

          Hey Jonah – no worries. Yes paying for a ticket on miles (and 2 for 1) doesn’t diminish any of your statutory rights.

          My flights over Easter are on Avios with a 2 for 1 so will be ensuring they re-route me if it comes to it. Flying F outbound and J in bound so will be expensive to do so too!

        • Scallder says:

          Should have added that the regs state they only have to re route if they can’t put you on another of their only flights in a reasonable time (or something to that effect).

          Depending on circumstances, a couple of days delay may well be deemed perfectly reasonable which for anyone is by no means ideal. I don’t think anyone has taken an airline to court yet for them to decide was it classed as reasonable

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