Friday, 21 December 2018

Virgin pilots strike off as carrier wins injunction

Many of the unhappy pilots at Virgin Atlantic are now even angrier and disgruntled with their employer this week after the airline secured victory in a court case over Christmas strike action.

Rather than negotiate with the union regarding the proposed strike action by members of Professional Pilots Union, the airline spent over £50,000 going to court to get an injunction against them. A judge in London granted the injunction on Thursday, December 20th, which meant the strikes scheduled to start on Saturday have had to be cancelled.

Virgin complained that the strike action not lawful as the PPU failed to inform the carrier of the number and category or level of the employees the PPU was balloting for industrial action, adding also which dates strikes would take place on.

John Cavanagh QC, hired by Virgin, that's majority owned by US giant Delta, said the categories of pilots involved in the strike action was crucial as an aircraft would not be able to fly without pilots of captain level and was needed to  “assist Virgin to prepare to deal with the disruption caused by the industrial action”.

The judge,  Sir Akhlaq Choudhury agreed that it was “necessary for the claimant to have some idea” of the level of pilots to be involved in the strike.  Choudhury incidentally also used to work at the 1 King's Bench Walk Chambers, where John Cavanagh QC practises.  

Virgin issued a triumphant statement “We’re pleased that the High Court has granted an injunction. We took the decision to go to court reluctantly, but we felt it necessary to ensure that our customers will be able to travel over the festive period as planned. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of our pilots who have offered to take on extra work this Christmas to make sure our flights are protected."

The PPU was disappointed by the ruling its spokesperson said, adding that it would study the ruling before it decided the next action it would take. The spokesperson also said the injunction was partially upheld only on a ballot technicality. .