Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

BA STRIKE 2019 UPDATE: British Airways loses at the Court of Appeal, pilot strikes can go ahead

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) has just given its verdict in BA’s appeal against the decision given by Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing on 23rd July that BALPA’s strike ballot was legal.

British Airways has lost the appeal.

BALPA is legally allowed to push ahead with a pilot strike.  However, British Airways and BALPA have agreed to meet at ACAS this afternoon and talks are due to continue until the end of the week.

This means that a strike is unlikely to be announced until Monday, which would mean – given the 14 days legal notice period – that flights are unlikely to be impacted until Monday 19th August.

British Airways vs BALPA appeal

BALPA said in a statement:

The Court of Appeal has rejected British Airways’ attempt to injunct BALPA’s proposed industrial action on a technicality. The legality of BALPA’s ballot has been affirmed.
 
BA’s case was already dismissed once at the High Court last week, but they insisted on wasting more time in pressing it to an appeal.
 
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:

“The Court of Appeal has today rightly dismissed BA’s attempt to injunct this industrial action on a technicality.
 
“BA’s attempt to defeat the democratic view of their pilots in court, rather than deal with us across the negotiating table, has sadly wasted huge amounts of time and money that could have been put into finding a peaceful resolution. Now the window for negotiation and compromise is closing fast.”
 
“BA need to wake up to reality. Our ballot returned 93% in favour of strike action. There is a serious issue here and BA has so far refused to help us tackle it.
 
“On BA’s own figures submitted to the court, even a single day of strike action will cost far more than we believe it would take to settle this dispute.
 
“However, BALPA wants to resolve this matter through negotiation and so we are not announcing strike dates. Instead, we have called on BA to hold further talks at ACAS and they have agreed to meet at ACAS today and for the rest of this week for one last try to resolve this dispute by negotiation.
 
“We have spent four days in talks at ACAS already, and BA refused to move their position one iota. But we hope they now recongise the seriousness of the situation and will work positively with us to find a way forward.
 
“We are not announcing strike dates today. In any event we are required by law to provide BA with 14 days’ notice of any proposed strike action.”

As a reminder, the crux of the appeal was that whilst BALPA had provided British Airways with a list of how many pilots, by managerial grade, voted for industrial action, they did not provide this information split by long-haul or short-haul fleets and that BA requires this information to mitigate the impact of the strike.

The law states:

The trade union must take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure that—

i)  the lists mentioned in subsection (2A) and the figures mentioned in subsection (2B), together with an explanation of how those figures were arrived at

2A)  The lists are—

(a)  a list of the categories of employee to which the employees concerned belong, and

(b)  a list of the workplaces at which the employees concerned work.

(2B)  The figures are—

(a)  the total number of employees concerned,

(b)  the number of the employees concerned in each of the categories in the list mentioned in subsection (2A)(a), and

(c)  the number of the employees concerned who work at each workplace in the list mentioned in subsection (2A)(b).

Was it enough to list employees by rank (Captain, First Officer) as opposed to fleet?  The Court of Appeal agreed with the original judge that it was.

Given the ludicrous cost to British Airways of shutting down the airline for a few days due to a strike, I would imagine that the magic money tree will mysteriously find some reserves this afternoon.  Let’s see.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (115)

  • Geoff says:

    Is there another issue here that we are not aware of? BA is a profitable company and can easily afford to share some of its profits with its hardworking staff or do they actually want a strike?

    • SimonW says:

      So these staff can buy shares in the company to share in the profits.

    • Matt says:

      Not sure if it’s relevant (or even true tbh), but while scouring for news of the appeal this morning, I came across an interesting headline.

      https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/9621269/british-airways-pilots-breathtakingly-greedy-strike-share-secret-bonus/

      If that is indeed true, then there probably is more to this, from the pilot’s perspective.
      It is The Sun though.

      • Mike says:

        It’s in the s*n. Probably not much truth in it at all.

        • AndyL says:

          +1 Don’t read the S#n Don’t buy the S#n

          • Bill says:

            JFT96

          • Shoestring says:

            ridiculous, they apologized for that countless times and editorial bosses no longer work there

            though come to think of it I detest all northern French as they chopped of somebody’s head about a thousand years ago

    • Nick says:

      Is any share of company profits in their employment contracts and benefits?

      If not, what is this ridiculous societal current view that they should, in any way whatsoever, benefit from company profits?!

      • Rob says:

        Work for an investment bank and you can expect 40% of REVENUE – not even profit – in your pocket (well, split among every combined pocket, but you get the idea).

      • David says:

        Because, in tough times not that long ago, the same staff agreed to a pay cut.
        It seems entirely reasonable for them to then share in the good times

        BTW I have no connection to BA, other than being an (infrequent) customer; or to any airline staff

  • Alan says:

    Not surprised they lost, seemed very flimsy grounds for appeal.

    Have Club to SA at end of Aug so really hope they get this sorted before then!! It’s an extremely strong ballot result so hopefully they see sense.

    • Russ says:

      Indeed, some critical minded thinkers were even suggesting it was a delaying tactic. Gosh who’d have thought eh….

      • Alan says:

        Didn’t really buy them much time at all though did it? The courts moved extremely rapidly (for once).

  • Lee Thornton says:

    Does anyone have a discount code for BA flights? Looking to go Club World to Las Vegas in January. Cheers in advance!

    • Matt B says:

      Not aware of any discount codes, but I got a decent saving earlier this year to Vegas by booking a flight and hotel package. Got 7 nights for not much more than flight only prices

    • Alex W says:

      I believe there’s usually a BA sale around September so might be a good idea to wait for that.

      There is very good Club World availability for January (see rewardflightfinder.com). You may be able to get an even better deal by buying World Traveller Plus tickets and upgrading to Club World using Avios.

  • Aston100 says:

    With current employment protection laws there is really no need for trade unions anymore.
    This isn’t the mid 20th century anymore where employers can do as they please without consequence.
    These collective bargaining groups and such like are a detriment to industry and commerce.

    • ChrisC says:

      And who pushed for those laws to be passed? Yes those trade unions.

      Take away the unions and some governments would repeal the laws and where would your protections be then?

      • Bill says:

        Look at Germany, excellent trade unionism, excellent manufacturing, etc etc

    • Andy says:

      Don’t know strike dates yet obviously, if I’ve booked direct with BA and my flight is affected I guess I contact them to try and move me?
      However one of my flights was booked with Amex Travel, would they be my first port of call rather than BA if that flight was affected?

    • Stu p says:

      Is that Alex or Michael?!

    • RussellH says:

      Sorry, but I cannot let that stand.
      Have you, or anyone you know, tried to enforce your employment rights?
      Do you realise that until you have been working for an employer for two years, you can be fired with no entitlement to redundancy pay? Which is why people get fired after working for 23 months…
      Do you recall that the government illegally introduced fees for appeals to Employment Tribunals, specifically designed to dissuade employess from using a tribunal?
      Have you ever met a young shop girl who was owed a couple of weeks back pay, and when the employer is asked when he is going to pay, he says that the girl (who is frightened of her employer) has to come and collect cash in person, because the firm does not make such payments by bank transfer?

      I could go on – easily – quoting some examples from people I have met.
      But the point is – far too many employers simply ignore their employees rights, just because they can.

      • Mike says:

        Well said. I started to reply but all I could get put was swear words.
        It’s actually pretty tough now to get a strike mandate (many MPs wouldn’t have their seats given the same turnout requirements). Hopefully management and staff can move forward at ACAS.

      • Lady London says:

        Well said RussellH. A huge backbone of British employees are still subject to such practices and worse. Only the law stops them. And even the law existing is painful and difficult to use to get justice quite a bit of the time. This area may be one for employees to beware of in a Brexit future.

  • ChrisC says:

    BA were on a fishing expedition.

    If BALPA sent them a list saying these pilots are short haul and these are long haul you can bet the first thing BA would do would be be looking for errors in the list as yet another way to get an injunction because the ballot was somehow flawed “look your honour they said Willie Cruz was long haul and he’s not and Alex Walsh is short haul but he’s actually long haul so can we please have an injunction because the data is wrong?”

    BA really need to kick themselves up the backside and stop quibbling about technicalities and negotiate with the pilots – and other staff too – in good faith not only on pay and conditions but in paying back the pay cuts as well.

    • Aston100 says:

      I bet you wouldn’t turn down a 11.5% pay increase.

      • Fc99 says:

        It’s not an 11.5% pay increase

        • Andrew says:

          It’s a LONG way from a 12.5% pay rise.

        • Wetboy1uk says:

          It says 11.5pc everywhere i look. Sorry, only on their basic salary of around 70k. Poor things. As they are asking for a pay rise due to ba profits i wonder if they would accept a reduction when ba makes a loss.

          • Rob says:

            They did. They took a £5k cut in basic pay after 9/11, to be returned when the airline ‘returned to profitability’. They are still waiting.

          • tradeunionist says:

            Its a hard job which requires a lot of qualifications and training, why do you begrudge them their salary?

            Crabs in a barrel.

          • Chrisasaurus says:

            Oooh embarrassing…

          • Ken says:

            You’d probably believe just about anything BA told you.

            It’s not 11.5% (over 3 years). It’s not even close.

          • Rob says:

            It’s not RPI linked either, which I think would be more palatable.

            In general BALPA don’t take the sort of nonsense that the crew may accept. Look at the BA crew offer for example. BA is NOT saying “we will share the savings from future cabin crew cost saving projects with you”, for instance. It says (I believe, although I haven’t seen the final wording) “we will share the savings OVER THE BASE CASE TARGET from future cost savings with you”. Plenty of scope there to ensure they get nothing, or only a sliver.

          • Rob says:

            A half-decent PA in the City gets £40k+. The going rate for a live-out nanny in Central London is £40k. £70k for spending £120k learning to fly a plane is hardly a massive gap.

          • Bill says:

            Let’s be clear and remind ourselves. 9/11 was 2001. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. They pilots have demonstrated sufficient patience imo

          • Shoestring says:

            can’t be much harder than driving a car in the air ie 3D

            plus a wee bitty taking off and landing

          • Lady London says:

            Over the base case target… You’re right Rob that’s classic weasel wording designed never to be fulfilled, or so it would appear. Very sneaky.

    • RM123 says:

      Exactly the point made by Lady Justice Simler (among other points) as she gently skewered BA at the end by listing all the places BA make absolutely no distinction between fleets in their HR and Operational backend.

      Hopefully they get whacked with a big costs order.

      • Lady London says:

        +1 A big costs order for wasting everybody’s time would be the icing on the cake.

  • Bob Hope says:

    Hmm. Was looking at booking some Euro Flights today. May just book another airline now.

  • AJA says:

    As i said yesterday I thought BA would lose. But just as I respect the rights of staff to strike I also think it was correct to allow the appeal.

    It is down to BA to improve the pay offer. Let’s hope they do it and that any revised offer is accepted by BALPA and the pilots.

  • Robert Powell says:

    You have to believe that BA will sort this, surely they see what a PR disaster it would be to have this happen right in the middle of their “100 year celebrations”?

    • Aston100 says:

      All I’m seeing is a bunch of greedy overpaid people holding an employer and its customers to ransom.
      No PR disaster in my mind or the minds of all of those I’ve spoken to.

      • Dimitri says:

        +1

        Just read the comments on BBC. I haven’t read anybody blaming BA for this. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49175569

        • Fc99 says:

          Yes. The BBC comments are never full of mental people talking rubbish

          • The Original David says:

            Just like the HfP comments!

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            Amusingly someone said BA is a much better airline than bmi. Well they couldn’t of flown bmi for a good number of years!

      • Liam says:

        What do you think an appropriate salary for these pilots would be, and why?

        • InkyChipPaper says:

          Two friends of mine are pilots at BA and have been for over 15 years. They earn close to 150k and have a final salary pension worth millions. It’s fair to say they’re not bothered about the pay rise but from what I can gather, pay and terms for newer pilots are much less favourable, so they quite rightly support their co-workers in getting a better deal. Bonus for them is they get more coin too.

        • Rob says:

          You’d get about £125k as an NHS senior consultant plus another £125k if you did one day per week of private practice. £125k would therefore seem fair for a senior long-haul Captain.

          But, as I said the other week, the top London law firms are offering graduates £80k starting salaries now so it all depends what you’re comparing with.

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            And compare this to auditors at the big 4 accountancy firms who get pittance for the amount of hours they actually work, not factoring the mental cost either.

          • Alan says:

            I’d highly doubt that private practice earning outwith London, Rob – it’s just not about. Only a small number of my colleagues do it and are lucky if they take home 20-30k from that. Also massive tax penalties due to pensions just now, with non-pensionable earnings potentially giving massive AA bills. Pay down 30% over past 10y for NHS consultants. Comparable earnings in Oz A$300k for public-only with much more private, so am aware of a number that have retired early to avoid pension tax issues and get proper remuneration.

          • A says:

            A few (7?) years back admittedly, but when BA were recruiting people to train to be pilots, the deal was:
            – pay £80,000+ for your training (or take out a loan) and cover your living costs on top
            – no guarantee of a job with BA at the end of the process (but I’d imagine workforce projections would indicate a likely need for those people to become employees)
            – if you did get a job, it’d be a starting salary of c £32k plus they’d pay back your training loan capital (but not the interest) at about £1k a month

            So yes, experienced captains will earn a lot but it takes a long time to get to that seniority. At the other end of the scale you may have a newly qualified pilot who is £100k in debt (maybe £160k if they did a degree first) on a salary in the mid-£30k.

            I’m whether or not saying i support the strike, but not all pilots are rolling in it.

          • BJ says:

            @Rob/Alan, private practice is for pocket money. The big game, at notable medical schools in London and a few others, lies elsewhere. Think lobbying, charities and such opportunities, both at home and abroad.

          • Alan says:

            @BJ I guess there might be some small numbers academics(?) that do that? Certainly not something any of the jobbing clinicians I’ve spoken to have anything to do with, private practice pretty non-existent up here too. Starting salary as a cons is £75k, after ~15y training, as I say 30% down from what it was about a decade ago due to sub-inflationary/zero pay awards for years.

          • Michael says:

            Top of the NHS consultant scale is £102k. It starts off slightly over 75k. Yes, some consultants earn more, either by working >40h per week, doing on call (availability supplement up to 8%), or with management payments. Any consultant wanting to do private work has to offer an extra session (paid) to the NHS per week or forego pay progression up the salary scale.

            Outside of London, from personal experience, earning £125k from private work involves 3-4 patient-facing-sessions a week (session = a half day or evening) in an established practice built up over many years and that is in one of the more lucrative sub-specialties. There is a significant amount of admin generated by this which would involve more time or employing admin support, reducing earnings.

            A small minority of consultants are earning >£125k from private practice.

        • Andrew says:

          What’s an appropriate salary? The only comparable is what other airlines offer and on that front BA are very generous. I really don’t know why Rob and others keep mentioning salaries of completely unrelated careers as some kind of justification for the pilots demands

      • Matthew says:

        I get paid a hell of a lot less the the pilots despite looking after more lives as an air traffic controller daily but I don’t begrudge them a salary increase at all. Terms and conditions are constantly eroded and the people on the front line are normally the last to share the profits. I agree it might not be good for your holiday but think about it if you were in there shoes.

        • Spaghetti Town says:

          I totally understand they all have training loans to pay for and bills to pay – but a Captain with 25+ years of experience on 150k, will he really need anymore money? He’s doing very well by UK standards.

          • Michael says:

            Inflation is running around 2% per annum and may rise in the next few years with Brexit. This alone accounts for a large amount of the pay deal on the table.

            I’m an NHS consultant and earn a large salary compared to the national average, but the buying power of that salary has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years as any increases in salary have not kept pace with inflation.

            A justifiably large salary (in the case of the pilots’) shouldn’t be allowed to be reduced by inflation just because it is larger than others’.