The PPU – Professional Pilots Union – is planning a series of one to four-day strikes starting December 22. These will happen December 22-25, December 30 to January 2 and January 4-7, inclusive.
The union, which represents around 400 of Virgin’s 965 pilots, says that the dispute is over union recognition.
It says Virgin has insisted on a “one-union arrangement” for its pilots, sidelining the PPU. The strikes, said the union, “will continue until the dispute is resolved”.
Spokesperson Steve Johnson said that the union has been “shut out” of Virgin’s negotiations over proposed changes to pilots’ pension schemes and a wider benefits review.
Virgin doesn’t currently recognise the PPU and instead recognises the British Airline Pilots Association, or Balpa.
Virgin said it did not expect the strike to disrupt its flying programme over Christmas and New Year, adding its priority was to ensure all passengers can complete their journeys as planned.
Johnson, a former Virgin Atlantic and Red Arrows pilot, said after pursuing recognition for the past two years, it had been forced to take action. He said:
It’s the last straw. Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members.
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.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:
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.