UPDATE: Virgin Atlantic pilots vote for industrial action

News. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150807-174846001
News. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150807-174846001

Pilots at Virgin Atlantic have voted in favour of taking action short of a strike.

Staff at the firm, based at Gatwick Airport, have taken the decision following a row over union recognition.

While not actually striking the action would see the removal of pilot ‘good will’ which may see flights not being covered.

The Professional Pilots Union, which represents the majority of pilots at Virgin Atlantic Airways, said 88.6 per cent voted in favour of action. The ballot turnout was 80.3 per cent.

A spokesman for the union said: “Our members have now voted in favour of industrial action in pursuit of sole recognition of the PPU by Virgin Atlantic. As we enter the third year of negotiations to achieve this aim, we urge the CEO of Virgin Atlantic to make a return to the table so that transfer of recognition can be concluded before the start of any action in seven days’ time.

“When this ballot was called, the company had refused to provide clarity on the requirements of transfer of sole VRA (voluntary recognition agreement) – stating that a sole VRA would need to be negotiated – but not signed – and then there would be a transitional stage with conditions that must be met by the PPU. Only when these conditions were met would a sole VRA be signed. However, Virgin Atlantic refused to disclose these conditions.

“We have been informed by the CEO that this matter cannot progress under the threat of industrial action.

“We would like to reiterate that as a union, the PPU has never refused to sign the same sole VRA that BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) currently has. In fact, we have suggested this as a way to break the deadlock and to move the issue forward.”

The action will begin on December 23.

The PPU has been involved in negotiations to secure sole union recognition with Virgin Atlantic Airways for almost two years. It was established three years ago after breaking away from the British Airline Pilots Association.

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said: “We value our pilots enormously and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot to take action short of a strike, which essentially means ‘work to rule’.

“We have been clear with the PPU leadership team that this action is unnecessary and we remain prepared to recognise the PPU once we have agreed the terms for voluntary recognition.

“We expect our flying programme to remain unaffected during this period and want to reassure our customers that all flights are operating as normal.”

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