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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)

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

  • Michael Jennings says:

    Well, for the August long weekend, I have plans to fly STN-LUX on Ryanair on Friday the 23rd. I am flying home LUX-LHR on BA on the 26th. Ryanair have a strike on the 23rd. Can I manage the perfect storm of having my return flight impacted by a different strike?

  • Shoestring says:

    Hmmm just my luck, I got my wife +2 Ryanair tickets as an insurance back-up plan for the 23rd

    actually might still turn out OK if there’s a Ryanair strike & refund for cancelled flights, now on tenterhooks seeing if BA announce strike on the 23rd – if I’m reading it right, no BA strike has been announced yet with the 14 days’ legal notice requirement, today being 8th August that means no BA strike legally possible on 22nd – but 23rd possible if they announce the strike today/ tomorrow? (14 + 8 = 22)

    tomorrow is Friday so you’d have thought they won’t announce a strike until tomorrow/ end of week/ exhaust ACAS possibilities

    • Mike says:

      doah !

    • Shoestring says:

      we’ve got Section 75 ‘insurance’ for the flights on BA on 23rd – paid on a credit card – so if needs must, they can fly out any old how with another airline & I’ll claim it back from Tesco Bank

      I have finally realised it’s a pretty good idea to pay for all your flights on a credit card to get that S75 protection

      only taken me about 15 years to work it out

      BA Amex card would be fine (credit card) but not Gold/ Plat (charge card)

      • Shoestring says:

        hmm, seems I booked them back-up flights on 24th on Ryanair, so no strike refund likely 🙂

      • S says:

        Gold is credit now

        • Genghis says:

          Only for new applicants

          • Shoestring says:

            ah yes, sorry about that, Gold is a credit card for new cards (and has been for almost 2 years! I’ll catch up sooner or later 🙂 – still on a Gold charge card until the anniversary at least

      • eldoctore says:

        Hi
        Do you have evidence of this – ie a previous cancelled flight due to a strike being refunded by the credit card company, or is it speculation. Thanks.

  • David says:

    We are flying First to LA on a 241 in September, we are only going for 9 nights so if we are delayed, even for a few days, it won’t be worth going. I am wondering if our date is a strike date with 2 weeks notice given, if there is availability on earlier flights could fly out to LA a few days earlier than had planned?

    • Anna says:

      If a strike is announced for your travel date you could certainly ask BA to put you on an earlier flight (this option would be easier for them anyway). Or you could cancel and re-book, though of course no guarantee of award availability if not showing already.

    • Lyn says:

      That is what I would expect, but I am no expert.

      Hopefully you will be OK but if your flight is affected I suggest that you have alternative airports available for negotiation with BA. For instance First class availability has been popping up to San Diego for August so I suspect those flights would be in less demand than LAX.

      • Anna says:

        If they are changing a booking there doesn’t need to be award availability (just room in the cabin), they can just transfer over the details from one flight to another. However, if the 2 4 1 booking was cancelled, there would need to be award seats available to make a new booking in the same class.

        • Lyn says:

          Anna, that is what I was thinking as well. I suspect there would simply be more empty seats available in F to San Diego than to LA, and it isn’t really all that far away if it means saving a holiday. Well, closer than LHR is to Manchester anyway!

        • Yuff says:

          If they cancel a flight and you have a 241 booking on the cancelled flight they will re-book you on the next convenient flight. The flight does not need reward availability.

      • David says:

        Thank you

      • David says:

        Thank you for your help

  • eli says:

    off topic:
    just looged into my BAEC account and saw this:
    – Don’t use any vouchers

    – BA American Express Companion Voucher
    Select eVoucher

    – 2822818- expires on 1 Jul 2021
    —————————————————-
    the above 2 sections were always there but the last line seems new, and the box is permanently checked
    anyone else see the same in their account?

    • Anna says:

      This is the page that usually comes up when you’re making a booking and you have an unused voucher.

    • Craig says:

      Similar on mine but only when I tick to use companion voucher does the actual voucher appear.

  • John S says:

    If the pilots are unhappy, they should move to a different carrier. If a City worker is unhappy with what he’s getting at DB, he’s free to move to Goldman, JPM or elsewhere. Same story. Free market.

    • Spaghetti Town says:

      I agree with you, except the pilots have a chance to shut down the whole airline, so they’re going for it.

      No pilots = no planes.

    • Joe says:

      Totally agree. Would happily make strikes illegal.

    • marcw says:

      That’s correct. However, BA depends on pilots to operate – so pilots have a LOT of power. No pilots.. no flying planes. And, there isn’t really a big surplus of available pilots in the market…

    • TM says:

      Investment banks spend a much larger percentage of their revenues on employee pay.

      • Clive says:

        Are you insinuating BA Pilots don’t earn enough? They are actually one of the best paid in the industry. One of the main reasons that this has raised its head has been due to the BALPA Rep who is a pilot for BA but the ex Ryanair Union Rep. A young greedy man.

        • marcw says:

          They just want a genuine profit sharing.

        • Doug M says:

          Posts like yours add nothing to any debate, but speak volumes about you as a person.

          • Clive says:

            Is that aimed at me Doug? Just posting the facts which are freely available to also read with a little more glamour in the mainstream press.

        • Stoneman says:

          But who says they earn enough? Citing examples of other poorer paid pilots doesn’t by default mean BA pilots are well paid.

      • Rob says:

        40%

    • Stoneman says:

      Or, if you are in a position of power you go to your employer collectively, threaten to ruin their operations, and see whether they give you what you want. All about power in the free market and the pilots are exercising their power. It works the other way as well. Not going to see me bitching about their actions given that the corporation they work for will give them the shaft if they can get away with it. Always makes me chuckle when people cite the free market but moan that employees exercise their power within this system.

  • Jim ware says:

    any news on what happened at ACAS today

    • Rob says:

      No.

      EDIT: my pilot friend just told me that talks have broken down, not sure if they will resume

  • Graeme says:

    Why would anyone moan about an insight into this? Baffling.

  • David says:

    This waiting is doing my head in – rotten when you can’t look forward to your holiday

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

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