BA Unions (Mostly) Back Pension Proposal

January 12, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The company council of the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) has unanimously endorsed the proposed changes to the company pension plan - but that sentiment wasn't shared by all unions.

BALPA, which represents most of BA’s 3,000 pilots, will announce the results of a ballot on the proposals on February 9.

However, the GMB union’s shop stewards, who represent 2,600 employees including baggage handlers and ground staff, according to Reuters, voted unanimously to reject the deal, saying in a press release that the proposal favored higher-paid workers such as pilots. Their members will vote on the offer starting next week, and decide whether to go on strike.

“We are disappointed with the position taken by the GMB,” the company said in a statement. “We have just concluded 16 months of talks by accepting a collective proposal put forward by the four trade unions.”

The New Proposal

The Transport and General Workers Union, the largest of the carrier’s four unions (representing about 30,000 workers), according to Reuters, has already recommended its members at the airline accept the proposal under its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS)., which includes:

  • a later retirement age of 65,
  • increased worker contributions (5.25% and the ability to contribute at a higher rate of 8.5% and retire at age 60)
  • a one-time 800 million pound ($1.6 billion) contribution, and up to £150 million more in contributions over the next three years, subject to financial targets.

The airline said last Monday that the BA Forum, which represents the company’s four main trade unions, would recommend the deal to their members. The four main unions are The British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA), which represents about 3,000 workers, Amicus (which represents some 4,000), Transport & General Workers unions, and GMB. GMB is the smallest union of the unions.

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