Belfast Telegraph

Judge refuses to grant injunction blocking Thomas Cook pilots' strike

Thomas Cook pilots are set to walk out on September 8
Thomas Cook pilots are set to walk out on September 8

A judge has refused to grant an injunction preventing Thomas Cook pilots from staging a 12-hour strike over a pay dispute.

Thomas Cook Airlines went to London's High Court on Wednesday after the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) announced it had authorised action - starting at 3am on September 8 - following a ballot last month.

Mr Justice Lavender dismissed the application after Thomas Cook unsuccessfully argued that the ballot was invalid because the voting paper did not comply with the requirement to indicate the period or periods within which the industrial action was expected to take place.

The judge said that, looking at the paper, a period was specified and it did not seem likely that a court would conclude that more detail was required.

In the ballot, 91% voted to take action in the dispute over a pay rise that was due in April.

Thomas Cook has offered a 1.5% rise and Balpa has asked for at least the inflation rate, plus catching up with other comparable airlines and better travel facilities for pilots.

Balpa General Secretary Brian Strutton said: "Balpa has always been confident in the decisive ballot result and was disappointed that Thomas Cook decided to challenge it legally rather than spending time and effort bringing an acceptable offer to the table.

"However, we robustly defended our right to strike and the judge rejected Thomas Cook's arguments about the wording of the ballot paper.

"The strike is due to begin at 3am on Friday September 8 until 3pm the same day.

"We have taken this course of action extremely reluctantly, but with no sensible pay offer on the table, we have no other option.

"Thomas Cook pilots have faced year-on-year, real-terms pay cuts, and cuts to terms and conditions, and our pilots have said 'enough is enough.'

"We have, however, kept this action to a minimum - just 12 hours.

"Thomas Cook have stated that 'all of [Thomas Cook's] flights on September 8 will operate.'

"We hope that this is true, as Thomas Cook's customers are not to blame for this action, but we also believe that if Thomas Cook had spent time negotiating rather than rearranging schedules, this action may well have been unnecessary.

"We remain committed to finding a solution to this dispute which will mean Thomas Cook putting forward a pay offer that their pilots can accept."