Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Virgin Atlantic Pilots to Vote on Strike Action Over Pay Demands


Pilots at Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. are to vote on strike action in a poll starting next week after talks about a new pay deal broke down.

Virgin’s offer to lift wages 4 per cent this year and by 3 per cent next year and in 2013 is unacceptable as pilots haven’t had a raise since 2008 and U.K. inflation is forecast to breach 5 per cent, the British Airline Pilots Association said today.

“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,” Balpa General Secretary Jim McAuslan said by e-mail. “We do not want a strike and have tried every way to avoid it but are resolute in our aim of fairness.”

Ballot papers will be sent out on May 24 and the vote will last four weeks, Balpa said, so that a walkout could start in late June or early July in the event of a “yes” vote, including a mandatory one-week notice period. Virgin Atlantic spokesman Greg Dawson didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

Talks with Virgin started last year and failed despite the intervention of the government-funded Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, according to the union, which represents 85 per cent of the carrier’s 750 pilots.

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