Pilots at Thomas Cook strike over pay dispute
PILOTS at leading leisure airline Thomas Cook have launched a 12-hour strike in a dispute over pay.
Members of the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) took industrial action from 3am - the first strike by UK pilots since 1974.
The union said the strike was in protest at year-on-year, real-terms pay cuts, cuts to terms and conditions and frustration with the company's "intransigent" stance during negotiations.
The pilots voted heavily to take action over a 1.5 per cent pay offer.
Balpa said its Thomas Cook members have taken industrial action "extremely reluctantly" and welcomed the news that flights are expected to operate during the 12-hour strike.
General secretary Brian Strutton said: "Thomas Cook pilots have faced pay cuts and slashed terms and conditions and say enough is enough.
"Going on strike is not something pilots take lightly. Balpa members haven't been on strike since 1974, but with no sensible pay offer on the table, Thomas Cook pilots have had no other option.
"The time has come for Thomas Cook to understand the depth of feeling on this issue, listen to its pilots and come forward with a reasonable offer that they can accept."
Thomas Cook has rescheduled some flights, saying: "Our priority is to make sure all of our customers can still fly on holiday and back home with us during the strike period and we are pleased to confirm that our flights will operate."
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: "We have set out a fair pay increase of 1.75 per cent in year one and 2.25 per cent increase in year two, on top of automatic pay increases, in what is a very competitive environment.
"Balpa have not moved from their demands for a pay rise which adds up to more than 10 per cent, or around £10,000 per pilot.
"We hope Balpa come back to the table willing to negotiate.
"We are grateful to our customers for their understanding and to our pilots who are flying today, as well as staff who are working hard to keep the impact of this strike to a minimum.
"All of our flights so far today have operated without disruption."