City Cruises

Published on Friday, December 7, 2018

Virgin pilots to strike over Christmas and New Year

Virgin Atlantic said it was working to avoid flight disruption over the holiday period after pilots who are members of the Professional Pilots Union (PPU) voted for a series of four-day strikes, starting on December 22 and continuing into January.

The strike ballot was called after the PPU was excluded from talks over proposed changes to pilots' benefits because Virgin doesn't recognise the union, preferring to negotiate only with the much larger British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) instead.

The PPU said that from a turnout of 72% of its members, 71.5% voted to strike. However, only just over 400 of Virgin's 965 pilots are members of the PPU, and 80 of these are on long-term sick leave.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: "A small number of our pilots have voted for industrial action. Our absolute priority is to ensure that all of our customers can continue their journeys as planned this Christmas, and we're working hard to protect all of their trips.

The series of four-day strikes will take place on December 22 to 25; December 30 to January 2 and January 4 to 7.

Spokesman for the PPU, former Virgin and Red Arrows pilot Steve Johnson, said the union have conducted a work-to-rule action for two years to secure recognition by Virgin, but it has been forced to take action after being shut out of vital negotiations concerning its 400-plus members.

"It's the last straw; Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members," he said.

"Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice this doesn't happen. We hope that Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by recognising the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our members long-term security.

"Our door is - and has always been - open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travellers. This is such an easy fix for the company; by including all unions in negotiations - not just one selected by the company - it can then live up to its claimed inclusiveness and we can get round the table together to negotiate a sustainable outcome for our members.

"The pilot workforce is a professional and committed group that sees striking as anathema, but clearly feel bullied into this action by a company that chooses to ignore them."

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