Virgin Atlantic pilots to vote on possible strike action

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Published: May 18, 2011

Virgin Atlantic pilots, represented by the British Airline Pilots’ Assn., will vote on possible strike action over pay, BALPA confirmed Tuesday. BALPA represents over 85% of Virgin Atlantic’s 750 pilots.

“We do not want a dispute but to date there has been no meaningful movement by the company and even the involvement of [the government conciliation service] ACAS has not broken the logjam,” said BALPA General Secretary Jim McAuslan, noting, “With nowhere left to go we have been left with no alternative but to give Virgin management notice of a ballot of Virgin Atlantic pilots for industrial action.”

He said VS pilots feel “very angry and disappointed” at the way they are being treated after forgoing pay increases in the last three years. “During the tough years, pilots have made sacrifices to help the business on the basis that fair pay would return. But that hasn’t proved to be the case,” he pointed out. According to BALPA, VS is offering pilots a 4% increase this year and 3% in both 2012 and 2013. “With inflation running at 5% and likely to remain high, pilots would, if they accepted these increases, be in effect voting themselves years of wage cuts. The company is asking us to effectively sign up [for] five years of cuts in pay. We are not prepared to do that. We do not want a strike and have tried every way to avoid it. We regret this, but are resolute in our aim of fairness,” McAuslan added.

The ballot will commence May 24 and will run for four weeks. Results will be announced June 21. If pilots vote for strike, they must give a formal seven-day strike notice.

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