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British Airways strikes now looking likely for early August as pilots prepare to vote

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As we broke on Twitter yesterday morning, BALPA – the main British Airways pilots union – has submitted formal notice to British Airways that it intends to hold a strike ballot.

What are the British Airways strike dates going to be?

We don’t know.  However, under UK law, an employer must be given seven days notice of the intention to hold such a ballot.

The Independent is quoting a timetable of:

ballot papers posted to members on 26th June

deadline for receipt of ballot papers of 22nd July

earliest date for strike action – given the legal obligation to give notice – of 5th August

What are the British Airways strike dates?

It’s not just the pilots, of course, although with no pilots the rest of the staff might as well stay at home anyway.

Unite and GMB, which represent most other employees at the airline, are running a few days behind BALPA but are also about to submit a similar formal notice to BA.  The three unions have been conducting a joint pay negotiation.

What is the current BA pay offer?

The current offer is 11.5% over three years, consisting of:

  • 4% in 2019
  • 3.5% in 2020
  • 4% in 2021

However, whilst this sounds ok, it does not reflect the reality of how crew are paid.  A relatively low base salary is topped up by a substantial number of additional payments to reflect, for example, nights away from home.  These allowances would not change and therefore the effect on total take home pay is far lower than the numbers quoted.

British Airways is also proposing a new bonus scheme.  The current one is complex with many factors – such as passenger NPS (basically ‘how happy are you to recommend BA to friends?’) – driven more by management initiatives than staff.

A statement from the Unite union to staff yesterday said:

Despite record profits, British Airways remain unwilling to share such success with those who helped create it.

The mindset of the so called “fight for survival” has become a permanent fixture. Cost cutting measures introduced with undue haste are never rescinded or returned to those who made them – even when they are no longer necessary or when record breaking profits are announced.

It would seem that staff only exist in management thinking when blame must be apportioned, when times are bad, or a when collective belt tightening is required. It is easy to recount the seemingly endless list of cost cutting initiatives in every area. Different names but the same outcome, “cost” i.e. your pay or terms and conditions were reduced for the greater good of the airline.

During the bad times, ordinary staff have shouldered more than their fair share of the airline’s cost cutting initiatives and ever reducing terms and conditions, without either acknowledgement or reward. It is therefore entirely reasonable that they are now able to share in BA’s success.

However, this has simply not been the case. Management do share in this success through a series of profit-based initiatives which can add up to millions of pounds, but staff do not – and it is for this principle, that BALPA, the pilots’ union, has issued formal notice to BA of their intention to hold a strike ballot for their members.

Unite and GMB will be balloting their respective members in the near future.

What are the British Airways strike dates?

What impact would a strike have?

It depends.  On days when BALPA strikes, it is effectively game over.

On days when Unite and GMB strike, it may be possible to keep a fair number of services on track.

On long-haul, British Airways currently has excess Mixed Fleet staff.  Strong recent hiring, the grounding of some Boeing 787 aircraft due to engine issues and the wet leasing of the Air Belgium aircraft (which have their own crew) means that there are cabin crew to spare.

On short-haul it is a different matter.  BA is apparently short on both crew and pilots, with many being rostered to their legal limits.

Qatar Airways has provided cover to British Airways in the past, providing fully crewed aircraft (Qatar has spare capacity at the moment due to the UAE blockade).  I am not sure if the CAA would allow this to happen again.  British Airways has also roped in managerial staff before to cover, although hopefully not for pilot roles …..

Anyway …. fun and games.  Let’s see how it pans out.


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Comments (171)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Adam says:

    If they vote yes – when do you think they’ll strike? When this has happened before what’s the timing looked like between ballot closing and announcement and then striking?

    • Shoestring says:

      they don’t tend to hang around – sometimes they time the strike to inflict maximum damage to the airline (which means to us passengers) – ie at start of Easter holidays etc

      as article states, unlikely to start before 5th August, which, being peak Summer hols, sounds entirely possible

      • Adam says:

        I’m organising a stag do – 8-11 August to Ibiza with all our flights with BA.. should I be worried?

        • Adam says:

          Worried about the flights that is… i’m already worried about the stag do 🙂

          • Shoestring says:

            heh heh! yep I’d be quite worried, unfortunately

            have you followed the detail about S75 protection (see above)?

            so my wife & kids are in the same position as you, flying on BA in second half of August – but have S75 protection on a Tesco credit card – if it goes tuts up/ cancellation, they can rebook (expensive) flights on alternative carrier and claim it back from Tesco credit card

        • Rob says:


          • Adam says:

            Ok – so I put this on my wife’s supplementary card under my name, so doesn’t look like I’m covered…. this might be a nightmare… fingers crossed they strike from 12 August 😉

          • Adam says:

            I’ve just spoken to Amex – it’ll all be fine, I’ll be covered…

  • Cliff says:

    My partner is cabin crew on Euro Fleet and they are treated like cattle and getting worse each year. Zero consideration is given to them with regards their rostering and I am an awe of anyone who can do a back to back Athens after getting up at 4am in the morning, only to be asked to repeat the process the following day. I know people will cry out that they took the job, but this isn’t what they signed up to. The BA cost cutting has hit them harder than the passengers (and yes that is saying something) and they are on the front line of abuse. Oh and by the way, with reference to the previous poster, my partner is female, in her 50’s and slim and beautiful ….. not just the guys that look after themselves.

  • RIccatti says:

    Very reasonable statement. The action deserves support and most BA front line employees see and know the damage done to the airline quality, service, brand.

    However, economically there is no inflation and so if _everyone_ expects 4-5% automatic raise annually, that would only push prices up.

  • Nelly says:

    Against my better judgement, after having a holiday severely impact in recent year, I have booked a flight this August with BA. I am afraid this will be the last time if yet another summer is ruined for thousands of loyal customers.

  • david trunkfield says:

    I have a flight booked for September linking to a cruise, if the flight is cancelled i lose the cruise.
    This will cost me dearly, I have not had a pay rise for 6 years and am due to retire soon.
    Transportation employees should not be allowed to strike, get another job there are plenty about but do not mess with peoples lives.

    • Shoestring says:

      no strikes have been announced yet so you have time to take out insurance that would refund you in the event of a strike (it does exist)

      • Rosemary Stachini says:

        & we all know how generous & speedy those companies are don’t we????? In any case BA has to refund us if they cancel our flight. But where does that leave us???? NO HOLIDAY

        • Shoestring says:

          BA would definitely not refund your cruise which is why I suggested the insurance

    • jimA says:

      so transport workers shouldn’t have the right to strike as it “messes with peoples lives” ie spoil your holiday. I assume that you would hold many others to an even higher standard – all hospital workers, (whether nurses or admin staff), care workers, gas, electricity etc where a strike would really mess with lives
      In fact anyone in a job that really contributes to society!

  • GavinRamsay says:

    Most people in these posts are only interested in their own self interest.
    Basically screw the working man as long as I’m ok. It is irrelevant how much a person is paid if they are being exploited. A quote from Martin neimoller explains it quite succinctly.
    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a socialist .
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out- because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me.
    That could be you one day, support your fellow man or be left out to dry, when there is no one to speak out for you. Pay or status has nothing to do with it. It is all about fairness. Whether you are the lowest payed or highest payed individual.
    Hopefully you will get the message and think of your fellow man and not just your self interest.

  • Mal says:

    I have long haul flights booked for August with BA I’m flying to the USA really hope they don’t strike.
    I can see the point the unions and BA staff are making and they do deserve more pay and better conditions just as the management do.

  • Nigel says:

    I think it would be fair to say that no one at BA wants to strike (inc Pilots), we all know the impact that has on customers and the airline and as the people who deal face to face with customers we are often the ones standing in the gap to make sure you get the standard and service expected of BA. However it is worth pointing out that this pay negotiation was due to be in place by Jan 2019 and BA are deliberately dragging their heals to save money. It worth noting that the entire work force has been involved in these negotiations which says a little about how the staff at BA feel about their current terms and conditions. It is also worth saying that Pilots accepted a 7.8% reduction through pay and productivity changes when the world economy took a dive and that has never been returned. Now after years of sub inflation pay rises while watching the company making every greater record profits while maintaining that staff costs must remain flat is no longer acceptable. The current staff bonus equates to around 0.5% of pay and is rarely paid in full and all that is being asked for is a genuine above inflation pay rise and fair sharing in the success of BA that has come at the cost of hard working staff. It has been 23 since BA pilots were last in this position, we are a group looking to regularly hold our company to ransom.

    The fact that this has happened in August is a disappointment to us too, please remember that BA are the one in control of the timing because this should have been settled by Dec 2018

    • Nogel says:

      That should have read “we are NOT a group looking to regularly hold our company to ransom”

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