Pilots vote for strike action


Britain's airports face a new wave of disruption following a vote for industrial action from pilots flying for the UK's third-largest airline, BMI.

Members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) working for BMI Regional and BMI Mainline voted with overwhelming majorities to strike in protest at low pay this afternoon.

The high 'for' proportion of the ballots, 86 per cent and 89 per cent respectively, is even more overwhelming than the 73 per cent of pilots from the third BMI subsidiary, bmibaby, who voted last week.

Now that all three divisions of BMI have agreed on industrial action Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan says his organisation will begin arranging the precise dates and times for the strikes.

"One could be an accident, two a coincidence but with all three pilot groups supporting strike action we have revealed a real feeling of injustice among pilots," Mr McAuslan commented, referring to the three BMI subsidiaries.

"Although there are separate and specific issues of dispute in each division, the overarching concern is that the company is bulldozing through change."

Crisis talks are set to begin next week in an attempt to break the deadlock. The short-term trigger for the current dispute centres around take-home pay, which Balpa claims was reduced without consultation by BMI executives.

"The aviation industry faces challenging issues, especially highlighted by the events of the last two weeks," commented Nigel Turner, BMI Group's chief executive.

"It is important that we work together to take the business forward. We will approach the concerns raised by Balpa constructively and I look forward to meeting with the union's representatives."

Balpa predicts that airports likely to be disrupted by industrial action include London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Belfast.

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