Virgin Atlantic pilot strike could add to Christmas travel chaos

Pilots at Virgin Atlantic are to strike from December 22 to Christmas Day in a dispute over union recognition.

Virgin Atlantic airplane at Edinburgh Airport. Photographer Ian Georgeson
Virgin Atlantic airplane at Edinburgh Airport. Photographer Ian Georgeson

The Professional Pilots Union said its members voted by more than 7-1 in favour of industrial action.

The PPU, which represents around a third of Virgin’s pilots, has been involved in a long running dispute over recognition.

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Spokesman Steve Johnson, said the union have conducted a work-to-rule action for two years to secure recognition by Virgin, but it has been forced to take action after being “shut out” of negotiations.

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“Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members,” he said.

“Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice this doesn’t happen.

“We hope that Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by recognising the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our members long-term security.

“Our door is - and has always been - open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travellers.

“This is such an easy fix for the company; by including all unions in negotiations - not just one selected by the company - it can then live up to its claimed inclusiveness and we can get round the table together to negotiate a sustainable outcome for our members.

“The pilot workforce is a professional and committed group that sees striking as anathema, but clearly feel bullied into this action by a company that chooses to ignore them.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman added: “A small number of our pilots have voted for industrial action.

“Our absolute priority is to ensure that all of our customers can continue their journeys as planned this Christmas, and we’re working hard to protect all of their trips.”