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The inside story on the BALPA / British Airways pay negotiations

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The BALPA pilot strike threat has been pushed down the news agenda this week because of the threatened (and then postponed) strike by UNITE members at Heathrow and yesterday’s IT meltdown.

A pilot strike is still a very real risk, however.

I spoke to a BA pilot yesterday who is up to date with the current negotiating position.  This is where things stand:

British Airways is claiming that it has no money, effectively, despite reporting impressive Q2 results and expecting another year of substantial profits, and despite finding a few pounds to take BALPA to court last week – and whilst this was not reported at the time, British Airways has been told by the court that it must pay BALPA’s legal costs as well as its own.

Progress at ACAS late last week and earlier this week was described as “minimal”

BALPA has agreed to another, potentially final, round of ACAS discussions which will start today (Thursday)  

Here are the current sticking points:

The current pay offer is not linked to RPI.  Whilst British Airways has sold this – and it was accepted by cabin crew – as an ‘above RPI’ offer, this is not guaranteed to be the case.  BALPA wants an RPI+ pay agreement.

BALPA is insisting on a profit share arrangement, similar to the one KLM recently introduced for its pilots.  Jet2 has also just awarded its pilots a bonus equivalent to 4-weeks pay.  The current bonus scheme, which has ten different triggers, is seen as one which is designed to stop payments being made.  BALPA would like a scheme based on a fixed percentage of profits.

The ‘gain share’ proposal on cost cutting, which has been accepted by cabin crew, is not acceptable.  (For what it’s worth, I agree.)  Employees do NOT share in the gains from cost cutting programmes – they only share in the additional gains over a random ‘base case’ figure put in place by management.  With no control over the ‘base case’ figure it is easy to see why this is not attractive.

BALPA has concerns over the governance of British Airways.  IAG, the parent company, refuses to get involved in negotiations because it claims that BA, Iberia etc have the freedom to operate at arms length.  BALPA believes that this is not the case and that the BA negotiating team is uncertain as to what it can agree without facing the wrath of IAG.

Let’s see what happens at ACAS today.

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Comments (160)

  • Murt22 says:

    If they set a strike date, does BA wait until right before the date to rebook you? Will they choose another carrier if necessary? We are scheduled from ORD on 8 September to LHR. I decided not to book anything for arrival date (9 Sep) in case we were delayed – but what are the chances of losing more than one day?

    • Shoestring says:

      no, BA normally allows a window of (say) 10 days in which you can re-arrange your flight free of charge, starting a couple of days before the strike date

      yes, on occasion you can fly with a Oneworld partner instead with BA’s blessing – but you have to get BA to re-ticket you if you want an easy life

      mostly pointless trying to overthink the issues/ timing before the dates are announced, unless you fancy booking hotels etc that can be cancelled free of charge – likely as not, the pilots’ strike won’t actually happen

      • Jim ware says:

        if a strike day in on your travel day will BA allow to travel the day before ???

        • Shoestring says:


          • Jim ware says:

            Thank you

          • David says:

            2 or 3 days before as well?

          • Shoestring says:

            definitely – I’m judging it by the HAL strike of 5th & 6th August – *the strike that wasn’t* – and BA were letting people change flights between late on 2nd August until 12th August – so a very generous ‘window’ around the strike in which you could change dates