On Monday, an overwhelming majority of British Airways pilots voted in favour of industrial action in the ongoing pay dispute.
The exact terms of the industrial action had not been announced, pending a High Court ruling on an injuction British Airways filed based on potential weaknesses in the balloting processes.
The hearing began at 10.30am on Tuesday morning. Around 4pm The Hon Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing DBE ruled the ballot WAS legal and valid.
Sky News said that:
“The airline argued in court that there were flaws in the way Balpa had organised the ballot – including over the indication of when strikes were likely to start.
Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing ruled the union would be “more likely than not” to establish the ballots were properly issued at any full trial.”
In a statement, BALPA said:
The British Airline Pilots Association has said it is pleased it has successfully defended an application for a High Court injunction brought against it by British Airways in relation to its strike ballot of members.
Today the judge presiding over the case determined that the pilots union had issued its ballot correctly and therefore the ballot result could stand.
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:
“While we’re pleased with the judge’s decision, we’re frustrated that time has been wasted. BA could have spent this time coming back to the negotiating table instead of trying – and failing – to tie us up in legal knots.
“This delay will now continue with BA seeking to appeal against the Hight Court’s decision.
“As a result it’s now likely the talks scheduled with ACAS on Friday will have to be postponed.
“We ask that BA thinks hard about why 93% of our members feel so strongly about taking strike action.
“The company itself has admitted that even one day of strike action would cost most than what our pilots are asking for, so the ball really is in their court here, to look after their pilots and ensure the hardworking public get to continue their holidays as planned.
“Although legally clear to do so, we have still not set any strike dates to give BA one last chance to commit to negotiating on pilots pay and rewards with us at ACAS later this week.”
We are now faced with another delay as British Airways appeals the decision, which is likely to take place on Friday or Monday. Unless there are genuine grounds for this, it is likely to achieve nothing other than to cause further grievances to the pilots. It is worth noting, however, that when Thomas Cook took similar action against BALPA in 2017 it was not allowed to appeal, so the evidence is potentially stronger this time.
Any industrial action will still require 14 days notice. BALPA has stated that it will wait until the appeal is heard, so it seems likely to be mid August before we see anyone walking out.
PS. Don’t forget the industrial action by Heathrow Airport staff continues, regardless of the pilot strike. This will happen on Friday 26th / Saturday 27th July, Monday 5th / Tuesday 6th August and Friday 23rd / Saturday 24th August.
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