BRITISH Airways faces its biggest ever strike next week, with 1,600 flights expected to be grounded.
The action will cripple the airline’s flight schedule, affecting up to 290,000 passengers flying on Monday and Tuesday.
Yesterday, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said it had written to BA offering to call off the strike if the airline agreed to fresh talks over pay.
BA said it was open to “constructive” talks but did not think Balpa was acting in good faith.
The most recent pay offer was an 11.5 per cent rise over three years.
Unite and GMB, representing cabin crew and engineers, have accepted the offer.
However, pilots have argued that the pay award should be higher, citing past years of low increases and the company’s strong recent financial performance.
In a statement, BA said: “We remain open to constructive talks with Balpa to resolve the pay negotiations, but we do not believe the union is acting in good faith by making an 11th-hour inflated proposal which would cost an additional £50 million.
“We at BA have acted with integrity through many months of negotiations.
“We and the union’s leaders agreed and shook on a deal on Monday 12 August only for the union to backtrack on that agreement and return with new and unrealistic demands.”
STRIKE TO COST MORE THAN PAY RISE
Balpa hit back, saying that strikes were going to cost the airline £40 millon, money that could otherwise go to staff.
Balpa General Secretary Brian Strutton said: “It is expressly denied that anyone from BALPA agreed to recommend a deal to pilots on 12th August and BA knows this because it was stated in an email on 19th August.
“Given that clear denial it is disingenuous to now suggest otherwise.
“In any event, when we showed this position to pilots it was massively rejected and it is their opinion that counts.
“BA’s suggestion that our new proposal costs an extra £50 million is laughable, the actual cost is less than £5 million more than BA offered.
“One day of strike will cost the airline £40 million yet they seem happy to spend money on covering strike action rather than their pilots.
“BALPA has not cynically waited as BA claims.
“At his request, I met with the CEO last Thursday and met the BA lead negotiator the previous Thursday, both without any progress or any proposals from BA.
“So yesterday we made a last ditch effort and have had no response at all – rather than talking to us directly they have decided to respond via the media.”
As well as the strikes on September 9 and 10, a further one is planned for September 27.
BA isn’t the only British airline currently facing industrial action by its pilots.
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Ryanair pilots this week voted to stage seven days worth of strikes through September after the airline refused to engage in conciliation talks.
Issues cited by pilots included pensions, allowances, pay structures, working conditions, and maternity benefits.
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