British Airways has been forced to re-open pension talks after its proposals were rejected by unions.
GMB members covered by the BA pension scheme have rejected the airline’s offer in its consultative ballot because they believe that the proposals favour the company’s highest paid workers. Leaders of pilots’ unions Balpa and Amicus have agreed to recommend the deal to members, but GMB claims that its members, which are mainly ground crew, feel that the BA’s new terms favour pilots and cabin crew.
It is concerned that the proposals, which include a range of changes for pension accruals and retirement rates, will make it more costly for ground staff such as check-in agents to keep the same accrual rate and still retire at 60 years as a larger percentage of pay for staff such as pilots is pensionable than that of ground staff.
BA, which last week released a statement that the new pension terms had been formally agreed with the trustees of the New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS), is in talks today with the GMB. Willie Walsh, BA chief executive and Ed Blissett GMB’s lead negotiator and Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, will meet at Heathrow to discuss the result of the consultation ballot.
Blissett said: "GMB members covered by the British Airways pension fund have given the union a strong mandate to reject the company’s pension funds offer. The members clearly believe that the current pension offer favours the highest paid workers in BA at the expense of the lowest paid."
He added that GMB still hopes to negotiate a settlement with BA but that it will not rule out the chance of an industrial action ballot.
BA’s proposals to tackle its £2.1bn deficit also include annual company contributions of around £280m for the next 10 years and a one-off cash injection of £800m.