Thomas Cook pilots go on strike over pay

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Pilots working for Thomas Cook, a British tour operator, will hold a strike for three more days in September and October if discussions that will be held starting next week fail to settle a dispute over pay, the pilot’s union announced on Friday.

Thomas Cook pilots went on strike for 12 hours on Fridays in what was dubbed as the first walkout by British pilots in more than 40 years by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

The industrial action by the members of the BALPA got under way at 3 o’clock in the morning after their demands for a pay increase were not met by the leisure airline.

Thomas Cook revealed that it had offered pilots a 4% pay increase over two years, in addition to automatic annual increases.

The union is asking much more than that and it requires a one-year deal to be in excess of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation rate, which in July, came in at 3.6%, and to include several other components of pilot remuneration.

Discussions, due to start on the 12th of September, have been promoted by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). Five days of negotiations will be held over a period of two weeks.

The BALPA announced that if those talks failed, strikes would be staged on September 23, September 29, and October 3.

“There is still a significant gap between us and Thomas Cook so we cannot assume that those talks will succeed. That’s why we’ve set new strike dates,” Brian Strutton, the General Secretary of the BALPA, said in a statement.

Thomas Cook revealed that all its flights operated during Friday’s stoppage.

“We are disappointed that BALPA has announced further strike dates. We have set out a fair pay increase,” a spokesperson from Thomas Cook said in a statement, asking BALPA to negotiate.

“BALPA have not moved from their demands for a pay rise which adds up to more than 10 per cent, or around 10,000 pounds ($13,217.00) per pilot,” he said.