The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has defended in the High Court the right of Thomas Cook pilots to take strike action, which is due begin at 03.00 on September 8. The stoppage is due to take place over 12 hours, but it is likely to affect flights later on in the day.
Thomas Cook attempted to get a High Court injunction to prevent the strike, but a judge rejected this, ordered BALPA’s costs to be paid, and declined permission for an appeal. Industrial action was supported by 91% of crews, with a turnout of 88%.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton, said: “BALPA has always been confident in the decisive ballot result and was disappointed that Thomas Cook decided to challenge it legally rather than spending time and effort bringing an acceptable offer to the table.
“However, we robustly defended our right to strike and the judge rejected Thomas Cook’s arguments about the wording of the ballot paper.”
Pilots are striking over what they say is a real terms pay reduction plus cuts to their terms and conditions.
“We have taken this course of action extremely reluctantly, but with no sensible pay offer on the table, we have no other option. Thomas Cook pilots have faced year-on-year, real-terms pay cuts, and cuts to terms and conditions, and our pilots have said ‘enough is enough.’
Cook has said that it will operate all its flights on Friday despite the strike. It is likely to use aircraft and crews from its European sister airlines, something that BALPA claimed to welcome.
“We hope that this is true, as Thomas Cook’s customers are not to blame for this action, but we also believe that if Thomas Cook had spent time negotiating rather than rearranging schedules, this action may well have been unnecessary.
“We remain committed to finding a solution to this dispute which will mean Thomas Cook putting forward a pay offer that their pilots can accept."
A Thomas Cook spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed with the court’s ruling and we will continue to work with BALPA representatives to come to an agreement on their pay claim.
"Our priority is to make sure all of our customers can still fly on holiday and back home with us during the strike period and we are pleased to confirm that our flights on 8th September will operate.”