British Airways insists talks to thwart a pilots’ strike next month are not over, despite pilots union Balpa claimed the talks broke down this week without agreement.
The airline and the union are at loggerheads of a new pay deal, which Balpa says fails to adequately reward BA pilots for their contribution to the airline’s £2 billion profits.
It is understood the Unite and GMB unions have now recommended BA’s pay deal to members after considering strike action, but Balpa is currently balloting members on potential walkouts.
Balpa’s ballot closes on 22 July and should members vote in favour of strike action, it could lead to the union calling walkouts as soon as 5 August amid the peak summer flying window.
Discussions between Balpa and BA have been mediated government conciliation service Acas, but Balpa said on Wednesday (10 August) the talks were over.
“Two days of conciliation talks at Acas between BA and pilots union Balpa have broken down without agreement,” said the union in a statement. “A strike ballot among pilots closes on 22 July.”
General secretary Brian Strutton added: “It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at Acas, we are still no further forward.
“Balpa tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing. Until BA changes its attitude, there is little prospect of talks resuming.”
BA though said neither it or Acas believe the talks are over. “We are disappointed Balpa has walked away from conciliation with Acas,” said a BA spokesperson. “We remain open and flexible to finding a solution to protect hard-working families looking forward to their summer breaks.”
Balpa pilots have so far rejected a new pay deal from BA worth 11.5% over the next three years, which the airline has described as “fair and generous”. Balpa represents all but around 500 of BA’s 4,500 pilots.
Earlier this year, Balpa, Unite and the GMB lodged a joint pay claim after BA owner IAG announced record profits of some €3 billion.