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View Full Version : Bonds. Legal or not in UK Law?


Agaricus bisporus
9th Apr 2001, 00:39
Right now there seems to be a plethora of threads about Bonds. I'd like to put one of these discussions to rest.

We have several "Legal Eagles" on this forum, could I perhaps request their assistance here?

I was always given to believe that a Training Bond constituted an "Illegal Indenture" in UK law, and was thus fundamentally unenforceable.

Is this so?

If not, is there any other question over the legality of such an agreement?

And to the folks that flippantly say, "You signed it, you're held by it", WRONG!!! If it aint legal in the first place there's no obligation at all.

So over to the Legal xperts. What do you think?

HomerSimpson
9th Apr 2001, 02:11
back to top....waiting for results....

Raw Data
9th Apr 2001, 04:50
Agaricus,

The answer is here (and has been for ages!)

http://www.pprune.org/go.php?go=/pub/gen/bonding.html

Captain Mainwaring
9th Apr 2001, 17:06
I would be most interested to hear from the lawyers how, if at all, the position has changed now that we have in place a human rights European statutory law. It caused the immediate alteration of the football transfer 'contracts' and would seem to be applicable to our 'bonding' arrangements ?

life's a riot
10th Apr 2001, 02:29
hmmmmmmm
yes, could someone answer Capt Mainwaring cos I would have thought that the ruling has changed too.

lots of love

Raw Data
10th Apr 2001, 02:34
Why not just ask BALPA (assuming you are a member), I'm sure they know the answer.

FNG
10th Apr 2001, 04:12
The changes to the football transfer system were driven by European Union law on free movement of workers and Competition (in the business sense, rather than the FA cup sense). They have nothing to do with the Human Rights Convention, which is a product of the Council of Europe, a body entirely distinct from the EU. It is doubtful that the Human Rights Act would affect the legal position on bond agreements as in general it does not deal with socio-economic rights. Having said that, BALPA might want to update their advice as the law on restraint of trade moves about even more than my airspeed on final.

NorthernSky
10th Apr 2001, 13:28
There's an important issue on which I would like to seek opinion, both from legal professionals who may wish to contribute, and from colleagues who have read the BALPA paper and have a view.

Reading the BALPA paper, one is drawn to understand that proof of 'Consideration' is vital to the proving of a case.

Now, I contend that the consideration offered by airlines is not necessarily of value. Pilots are employed to fly, and I would say that the type of aircraft flown is of little consequence, beyond the fact that some people prefer one manufacturer's product over another's, or have a particular yen for turboprops or jets, or whatever.

So, airlines are disingenuous in seeking to place significant value on type rating training. They choose the equipment, and they employ pilots to fly it. The fact that their equipment is different to other peoples' is not of consequence, other than for the fact that this gives rise to the need to train pilots on the specific type, and this is a responsibility they took on when deciding to operate aircraft.

The argument about taking experience elsewhere is similarly open to criticism. Pilots are assessed most often on experience, that is, hours flown on class of equipment, rather than specific type. I believe that very few pilots would succeed in finding employment straight from a simulator course, on the grounds that they were 'competent' on type - a potential employer would most likely wish to carry out further training.

Moreover, I use the word 'class' specifically to highlight that, if a company operating a 50T EFIS twin-jet is recruiting, then pilots who have flown 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, A300, A320, A330, A340, F70/100, BAe146, etc., might all be suitable candidates, the important criteria being 'hours on EFIS jets'.

Thus, pilots gain credibility and experience of value in the employment market by doing their jobs flying aircraft, and not by having particular type ratings.

My argument could be illustrated most clearly by an airline operating the only examples of a particular type, and yet seeking to bond their pilots for the training on it!

Over to you.....

------------------
'Brighten my Northern Sky' Nick Drake R.I.P.

[This message has been edited by NorthernSky (edited 10 April 2001).]

InFinRetirement
10th Apr 2001, 15:53
This is an ever emotive subject that few, if any, try to understand, or are willing to understand since they are, apparently, tied to the apron strings of the airline they signed up with, and after a period of time they don't like it and want to spread their wings still further. Nothing wrong with that but what about the airline?

Firstly, the legalities of a training bond have been tried and tested in court and the first case was in about 1986, and the plaintiff lost. The BALPA paper was drawn up, not by learned gentlemen I seem to remember. In any event BALPA did NOT support anyone that I re-call in a case against an airline.

I think it was BM that first drew up a contract that included a bond in about 1984. I used a similar copy in 1986. This document stated that a bond would last for a period of three (3) years. The cost of training would reduce by one third on each anniversary of the contract and the pilot would return any monies due for the final year on a pro-rata basis. In practice this was never enforced with such a small amount of time to the end of the contract.

Why was it necessary to draw up such a contract? Well, the answer lies in the cost of operating aircraft, the people who train, the fixed costs, the direct operating costs, simulators and CAA charges. These charges, back in the early to middle 80's, equated to around 10,000 for a B737-200. Probably double that now!

The original problem left a sour taste in the mouth. I have experienced pilots coming to my airlines, getting trained at our expense, get a good number of hours in their log books and then decide to leave. At best it was cynical, at worst it was tantamount to fraud, simply using a small airline as a stepping stone to a large one. In itself nothing wrong with that, it's actually bound to happen, but when it happens within a few short months it is grossly unfair on the airlines. It was then, in the early 80's, that the bond was born. The airlines could not afford to have pilots come and go in this way.

The bond met with some resistance everywhere but it was never going to go away, because of a FEW rip-off pilots. Not all of course, for there were very many who were thoroughly honest and loyal and I was able to rely of them completely - that just left the selfish ones. Funny! to this day I can re-call every name of those that cost my companies over 100,000 in 5 years!

However, in today's climate and in the light of today's costs, it is well nigh impossible to get a job in which you do not have to be bonded or contracted for the cost for your training. Often as much as 25,000 these days. And why not? Why should another airline benefit from the cost of your training? Why should you personally benefit from free training. What are you thinking of if you take that particular view? Selfishness and the thought of working for a a major probably. Well this is one example where your life has to be controlled for a while. It doesn't hurt, you are still flying, so what's the problem? Mostly that the airline you work for now IS that stepping stone you badly wanted - only you couldn't say that at your interview could you? So I am afraid you have to face up to pay-back time.

The fact is, that too many pilots took mean advantage of airlines in the 80's and the price today is that you pay back the costs of your training you received if you decide to leave. That's fair, and it is right.

There is NOT ONE SINGLE ARGUMENT that anyone can voice against bonding. It's almost impossible. Why? Because I doubt that there is one airline or one firm who would be prepared to allow you to TAKE 25,000 out of their bank account, so that you can gain the pleasures of a type rated licence or other qualification you are not required to pay for.

I have known pilots who paid for their own type rating and thereby reduced the cost of their training considerably. But these days it will still cost around 12-15,000. Most people can't do that so they rely on the airline.

For me, that says it all, if you rely on the airline, they should be able to rely on you!

As far as the football transfer system is concerned. It doesn't apply. You might like to think that it does, but the EU is actually quite fair, and to take a blanket view of that particular piece of legislation is like walking around with your eyes and mind closed.

In my humble view the the bond is here to stay. That is right.




[This message has been edited by InFinRetirement (edited 10 April 2001).]

B clam
10th Apr 2001, 19:17
Fair point. However, what if the bond doesn't reduce on a pro-rata basis like my company's. Is it fair to demand the full bond if you have been working for the company for 20 or so months? I know I signed the contract but I had no choice.
Any views on a non-reducing bond?

The Guvnor
10th Apr 2001, 20:04
A non reducing bond isn't fair; and according to the Balpa item, is probably (rightly) unenforceable.

InFinRetirement
10th Apr 2001, 21:04
B Clam, that is not acceptable, and would be unenforceable (probably in law).

There is a precedent for a reducing bond but your company, or any other company, are applying an unfair restriction that would give them little or no chance of winning an action for the whole amount while you have "worked off" a major part of the bond. That is how it was setup in the first place.

You should request a review of your contract with your company as soon as possible, and should ask that it be adjusted.

Then take it from there.

Flanker
10th Apr 2001, 21:54
InFinRetirement

I'm afraid I disagree with your view on bonding.It does in my opinion have its failures, in fact the requirement to bond anticipates the failure to retain the employee.

Contrary to your view not everyone takes a job to gain some type rating.My bone of contention is that it is a deal I have no choice but to accept if I want to work in my chosen(and hard earned)profession.Apart from BA what is the airline alternative in the UK?

Actually I can accept being bonded, but only if the job is as advertised by the employers.For me Britannia was such an example and if I had left during my first three years I would have had no argument with paying them any amount owing.

Unfortunately this is not always so and it is quite possible to find yourself in an untenable situation,shackled financially having taken the job in good faith.This cannot be a healthy state of affairs for either party.Been there done that!

I think it is important to recognise that in fact there can be problems as things stand.I look forward to the time when a little more integrity from both sides makes the problem redundant.

Raw Data
10th Apr 2001, 22:14
Flanker-

If you find yourself in an untenable position, there are legal remedies, for example constructive dismissal or breach of contract. If there are any factors other than a simple desire to leave, the company would in all likelihood have trouble enforcing the bond in any case. Even if they do manange to get a ruling in their favour, it is usually possible to negotiate the rate of repayment.

However, I have to agree that changes in a job (for example an enforced base, or type, change) can significantly change the acceptability of a job and in this case, bonds should be cancelled as soon as the job changes.

Personally I think bonds are immoral. Far better to recognise the training costs in your organisation, and budget accordingly. Does Microsoft bond its' highly-trained employees? I think not! They simply recognise that if they fail to satisfy the aspirations of their employees, the employees will leave and that is simply the competitive nature of the industry. In aviation, it is certainly true that smaller companies will always experience high throughput, but there are other ways of dealing with that problem.

Even if you accept bonding when joining a company on a new type, I cannot think of any justification for re-bonding when changing types. Such an employee has already proven their loyalty, and that should be recognised.

At the end of the day, bonding is an unimaginative (and very British) way of dealing with the problem. It is also, I believe, punitive and the sooner it stops, the better.

The worst sort, are of course the bank loan type. These should be outlawed immediately!!!

Arkroyal
10th Apr 2001, 22:33
Well said Raw Data.

I feel that an enforced uprooting and type change should carry no additional bonding. If life becomes impossible, it will not be the fault of the pilot, and a towering bond to repay will hardly help.

A contract, however is a two way street, and if the employer breaks any of its provisions, (as they do every day) then the whole thing could arguably be junked, including the bond. Thoughts on that, anyone?

Raw Data
10th Apr 2001, 23:58
Arkroyal-

The main problem there is that most employment contracts are pretty vague (except when it comes to disciplinary procedures), which makes it hard to establish a breach of contract. If you have a clear case, good idea to test it in the courts/tribunals.

I once had to take a company to a tribunal, and was surprised how user-friendly and straightforward it was. Of course I had a pair of BALPA lawyers with me, which increased my confidence somewhat! ;)

InFinRetirement
11th Apr 2001, 00:52
InFinRetirement
_____________________________________________
"the requirement to bond anticipates the failure to retain the employee."
_____________________________________________

Not so in my view Flanker. It merely places on record that you have received a rather expensive form of training and that if you decide to depart suddenly - you have to return their costs - PROPORTINATE to the amount of time you have worked there - but NOT in excess of three years.
_____________________________________________
"Contrary to your view not everyone takes a job to gain some type rating."
_____________________________________________

I don't think I said that. What I said was that a type rating is the result of taking a job with the airline. The inevitable consequence is that your training incurred the company a very large expense - that they would wish to protect. It is not unreasonable to do that.

I don't think I can go into each individual airlines'principals on this, but it is up to you the employee to ensure that what you sign is what you want. Finding yourself in an untenable situation is in most cases self inflicted and a lawyer should have been consulted before signing.

If on the other hand you can show that you have been "shackled financially, and thus placed in and untenable position" you have recourse to law and you should use it. I would have no truck with an airline who treated a pilot in such a fashion and would, as I did, when we had an association formed to protect ourselves, voice a very strong objection to attempts to ignore the basic rights of pilots. This is on record.

See Flanker, you have chosen the word integrity. A good word, which BOTH sides should use but some airlines have been kicked in the teeth and integrity goes out of the window. Integrity won't make the problem redundant, as you say, but honesty and fairness will.

Raw Data raises the question of company law in a different way and which doesn't apply. Constructive dismisal is part of unfair dismissal, where a Tribunal is set-up to deal with it and it can only go to Tribunal if a company is doing it's best to try and remove you by fair means or foul - that is Unfair Dismissal. Nothing to do with a bond - they want you to stay. If they did try and get rid of you, you would be the lucky one, home free with no financial encumbrances.

Breach of contract is another matter for a lawyer to look at. But contracts are easy to break so you have to be careful.

I believe Raw Data has it wrong when it comes to hoping that bonding will one day cease. In general terms I would actually have to agree with him. But in commercial terms it would cripple an airline who didn't, for arguments sake, get new entrants to the airline bonded. Note I did not mention those already employed there being offered change of type. I believe it is wrong and cynical for any airline to re-bond a pilot who is being re-typed - that is their decision and theirs alone, and they should bear any costs. I know of several airlines who steer well clear of this hot potato and quite right too.

I also don't agree about the bank loans that RD dislikes so much. I know of at least four people, very intellectual people, who have recently taken out loans against their property. Or have arranged other types of loan so that they can begin THEIR careers for their licences. When they get a job, they WILL be bonded, but they will have that job! How would they do it otherwise. I did the same thing many years ago and it was all there was. Saving was out the question. Only the fast track was acceptable.

The system I would like to see adopted is one of mutual agreement between the airline and pilot. One where absolute agreement is reached on how to best to resolve a difference of opinion BEFORE he actually agrees to start work with the airline. The basis of the contract would be that he must stay for at least ONE year with his 'bond' interest free. If he wants to leave after that period it must be agreed that a repayment scheme is set-up where he has to repay part of the remaining balance before he leaves, and the rest within ONE year. It's not an ideal solution but it is one that is fair. It should also be drawn up by opposing solicitors.

However, I would have a bet that one side or the other will try and bust it wide open, if it suits them. That's the nature of this particular beast!

Raw Data
11th Apr 2001, 02:28
InFin -

Sorry, can't agree with you. Name three other industries where very expensive training is bonded (for example Maritime companies, computer companies etc).

>> But in commercial terms it would cripple an airline who didn't, for arguments sake, get new entrants to the airline bonded. <<

Doesn't seem to cripple British Airways very much, does it?

>> I also don't agree about the bank loans that RD dislikes so much. I know of at least four people, very intellectual people, who have recently taken out loans against their property. Or have arranged other types of loan so that they can begin THEIR careers for their licences. When they get a job, they WILL be bonded, but they will have that job! <<

Not entirely clear what you mean here, but the bank loan-type bond is just a cynical tool that the airline uses to ensure they get their money. They don't want to get involved in a dispute with a pilot that they could conceivably lose, and they know that by the time the issue goes through the courts, the pilot will be faced with trying to recover monies from the airline- but HE WILL STILL HAVE A BANK LOAN. Getting the money from the airline will involve further court involvement, the cumulative cost of which will almost certainly be more than the figure being sought. This, apparently, constitutes justice.

Also, the existence of a bonding loan can have very adverse effects when trying to raise finance, for example a mortgage. I had to do this recently, and it took a major effort to get a mortgage lender to see that I wasn't actually paying the money each month- even the risk that I might have to one day gave them the jitters. The effect a bonding loan has on creditworthiness alone makes it immoral.

Finally, a type-rating constitutes on-the-job training. It is not a pre-requisite for employment. Once again, show me another non-aviation company that bonds for that sort of training.

Everybody accepts that they will have to pay for their licence, unless of course they get a cadetship or have a rich daddy. That has always been the case- but bonds are a relatively new phenomenon.

Finally, constructive dismissal does apply in the context in which I mentioned it. If a company varies the actual work conditions without changing the Terms and Conditions of employment (for example a forced base change or some similar act), then constructive dismissal may apply. I have once seen a person go for that (and get it) in those circumstances.

The point is, that if a crew member has such a change forced on them, it may well do significant damage to their private lives. This was a standard Air UK trick a few years ago- base pilots in one place, but make them live in another. Now, if a pilot rightly wants to preserve his marriage, but cannot for whatever reason just up and move to the new location (kids in school, wifes employment, unable to sell house, whatever), what can he do? If he has a bond, not a whole lot!

Unfortunately, the company line that you espouse is, as I mentioned, a typically unimaginative British way of dealing with the problem. The Americans long ago realised the benefits of the carrot approach, but the only approach the Brit airlines can manage is the stick approach. A sad commentary on British industry in general.

InFinRetirement
11th Apr 2001, 04:01
InFin -
Sorry, can't agree with you. Name three other industries where very expensive training is bonded (for example Maritime companies, computer companies etc).

Army, Navy and Air Force. You want out you buy yourself out, and there are a few major business's that do have bonds. I have concentrated on this answer, and I WILL come back to you on that one.

>> But in commercial terms it would cripple an airline who didn't, for arguments sake, get new entrants to the airline bonded. <<

Doesn't seem to cripple British Airways very much, does it?

Well it wouldn't would it, and is therefore an unrealistic analogy. But had you been around in the 80's when the problem first surfaced it had a dire effect on several operations - some of whom went under.

>> I also don't agree about the bank loans that RD dislikes so much. I know of at least four people, very intellectual people, who have recently taken out loans against their property. Or have arranged other types of loan so that they can begin THEIR careers for their licences. When they get a job, they WILL be bonded, but they will have that job! <<

Not entirely clear what you mean here, but the bank loan-type bond is just a cynical tool that the airline uses to ensure they get their money. They don't want to get involved in a dispute with a pilot that they could conceivably lose, and they know that by the time the issue goes through the courts, the pilot will be faced with trying to recover monies from the airline- but HE WILL STILL HAVE A BANK LOAN. Getting the money from the airline will involve further court involvement, the cumulative cost of which will almost certainly be more than the figure being sought. This, apparently, constitutes justice.

What I mean is that the fast track method to achieving a licence is preferable to hour building. However, it will require that a loan is arranged - in most cases. Certainly in the four instances I described.

As far as a bonded loan is concerned, and as you describe it I have to say I am unfamiliar with it and on the face of it agree that it appears to be somewhat unsavoury. Especially as it can affect your ability to raise funds for a mortgage. I shall avoid that one as I don't know enough about it.

Finally, a type-rating constitutes on-the-job training. It is not a pre-requisite for employment. Once again, show me another non-aviation company that bonds for that sort of training.

Absolutely not RD. If you want a job and it costs the company 25,000 to train you and five other Captains and six First Officers, 6 crews per aircraft, you seem to suggest that the company should accept this as on the job training. EasyJet for example have ordered 32 B737-700's = 384 pilots - no bonding? I don't think so. That is naive RD, and unlike you. You cannot expect a company to risk that kind of money without some safeguard. This is business we are talking about not a play place for pilots. Pilots and the company are an integral part of each other, one doesn't work without the other and, therefore, it is a joint agreement and effort - at least the way I would like to see it - to make the airline profitable. But both sides have to be responsible about it. Arguing about the inevitable BEFORE you get a job is about as useful as nailing yourself to a fence.

Everybody accepts that they will have to pay for their licence, unless of course they get a cadetship or have a rich daddy. That has always been the case- but bonds are a relatively new phenomenon.

If you can call 22 years a new phenomenon yes it is, but it was some pilots who caused the problem in the first place. Take it from me RD, it is a fact. Not all, as I was careful to say before, but it was caused by greed and a 'romantic' need to fly the jets for a big airline.

Finally, constructive dismissal does apply in the context in which I mentioned it. If a company varies the actual work conditions without changing the Terms and Conditions of employment (for example a forced base change or some similar act), then constructive dismissal may apply. I have once seen a person go for that (and get it) in those circumstances.

An employer is entitled to change Terms and Conditions of employment. Read the many times it has ended in the High Court, just go to your local library and have fun - you will be gobsmacked. And this includes the right of an employer to move his operation/business to another location. And if that location is further than 15 miles from the last he must first offer redundancy to those affected. But that cannot be construed as constructive dismissal, since they gave due notice, as did Air UK because I was at the heart of that for a time. The bond however, is negated IF the person was sensible enough to ensure that he would not be liable. And, of course, the very nature of the business means that your aeroplanes go where they will do most good for the company, not I am afraid for the benefit of pilots and their families. This a real world situation here RD and your argument has, from start to finish, been one-sided. Understandable. Whereas mine has been one of seeing both sides - which is why I was always considered fair to all the pilots I employed. A considerable number. A few are PPRuNers, I'll give you their names if you like.

The point is, that if a crew member has such a change forced on them, it may well do significant damage to their private lives. This was a standard Air UK trick a few years ago- base pilots in one place, but make them live in another. Now, if a pilot rightly wants to preserve his marriage, but cannot for whatever reason just up and move to the new location (kids in school, wifes employment, unable to sell house, whatever), what can he do? If he has a bond, not a whole lot!

Unfortunately, the company line that you espouse is, as I mentioned, a typically unimaginative British way of dealing with the problem. The Americans long ago realised the benefits of the carrot approach, but the only approach the Brit airlines can manage is the stick approach. A sad commentary on British industry in general.

Ah see RD, this is where what I espouse is because I am British and you are a Kiwi, we did something wrong did we? Come on mate, you are here now and you have to accept the British way. I don't like some of the things the Kiwi's and the Americans do but we do what we do because we are what we are. I never did use the stick approach and although there were those that did I think in general they don't. Your firm certainly don't. Tarring everyone with the same brush is a bad mistake, making a difference between Kiwi's and British working in the same environment is unfortunate at best.....but you could go fly in America I suppose - I did once, it was great!

tilii
11th Apr 2001, 05:04
InFin

One of your comments to Raw Data was to assert that his arguments were “one-sided” followed by your statement that yours were spoken from a position of “seeing both sides -which is why I was always considered fair to all the pilots I employed”. Well, I guess there is nothing quite like blowing your own trumpet.

When RD asked you to state 3 other industries where expensive training was NOT bonded, you replied “Army, Navy and Air Force”. Come on, now. RD was not referring to training from raw, totally inexperienced recruit to operational readiness with provision by the employer of food, accommodation etcetera, even the clothes on the back of the trainee. Nor was he referring to training for defence of the realm; training that, in the case of pilots at least, costs millions. Compare like with like and come up with 3 other industries, if you can.

With respect to the BA analogy, you said: “But had you been around in the 80's when the problem first surfaced it had a dire effect on several operations - some of whom went under.” Please tell us to which “problem” you refer, and then explain how bonding might, in your view, have saved such companies from going under. I too can think of several companies that went under in the era to which you refer. However, I cannot think of one that went under because it had failed to bond its aircrew. Most went under simply because they deserved little better given the way they were set up in the first instance and then subsequently run (survival of the fittest and all that).

You plead ignorance as to the “bonded (bank) loan”, admitting that it sounds an unsavoury practice, then later suggest that RD’s employer does not use the “stick” approach. Clearly, then, you either don’t know who RD’s employers are or you are indeed ignorant as to current bonding methods. For the record, I think you will find that RD’s employer does bond its pilots via the bank loan method, and it bonds in very large sums given the types it operates.

You know, it really does worry me to read posts like yours that talk about pilots “wanting a job” as if that is abnormal, then following it up with assertions as to pilots and airlines being “an integral part of each other” and that “one doesn't work without the other and, therefore, it is a joint agreement and effort … to make the airline profitable”. As I’ve said on another similar thread, this is certainly, as you say, a two way street in that employers need the pilots and vice versa.

However, it is not the pilots’ responsibility to make airlines profitable. There is a thin line between this assertion and the negative commercial pressure that might just drive an airline beyond safety and into oblivion. Pilots should never concentrate on profitability. The day they do is the day it would be wise to avoid flying.

You are, of course, quite right to speak of an employer’s right to change Terms and Conditions of Employment. You did, however, omit to mention the fact that such changes cannot be made unilaterally without constituting a breach of contract.

Finally, I am concerned by your reference to RD’s nationality as if it has some bearing on the validity of what he says. That “we do what we do because we are what we are” is not a valid justification for the way that our airlines currently handle the bonding issue. If it is, then it speaks volumes about precisely “what we are” (enough said, I think). Surely you can do better than that, can’t you?

Raw Data
11th Apr 2001, 10:26
Just a quickie 'cos I'm tired and it's late.
Besides, tilii made a cogent response. I'll just pick up a few points.

You originally said:

>> But in commercial terms it would cripple an airline who didn't, for arguments sake, get new entrants to the airline bonded. <<

I replied:

"Doesn't seem to cripple British Airways very much, does it?"

You responded:

>> Well it wouldn't would it, and is therefore an unrealistic analogy. <<

So BA isn't an airline?

>> Army, Navy and Air Force. You want out you buy yourself out<<

These are NOT businesses, as you well know. They have no bottom line and are not required to make a profit. Have another go!

>> But had you been around in the 80's when the problem first surfaced it had a dire effect on several operations - some of whom went under. <<

I was, and the demise of all those carriers had nothing whatsoever to do with not bonding
pilots- in fact most of the ones that went down DID bond pilots!

>> As far as a bonded loan is concerned, and as you describe it I have to say I am unfamiliar with it and on the face of it agree that it appears to be somewhat unsavoury. <<

As this is now the de facto standard for bonding, perhaps you should do some quick research. This is what we don't like!

>> Absolutely not RD. If you want a job and it costs the company 25,000... <snip> ...you seem to suggest that the company should accept this as on the job training. EasyJet for example have ordered 32 B737-700's = 384 pilots - no bonding? I don't think so. That is naive RD, and unlike you. You cannot expect a company to risk that kind of money without some safeguard. This is business we are talking about not a play place for pilots. <<

In that case, the airlines are out of step with most other industries. Example- if I leave university with a good IT degree, then go to work for Microsoft, they will train me as much as necessary for me to work effectively with their tools and products. This training is generally far more intensive, expensive and time-consuming than what airlines provide, and can go on for many years as a person rises through the company. Now, if a person leaves after a couple of years, having received training worth tens of thousands of pounds, and making them instantly employable worldwide, how much do you think Microsoft has bonded them for? NOTHING! This is NORMAL outside the airlines (and one or two other industries).

>> but it was some pilots who caused the problem in the first place. Take it from me RD, it is a fact. Not all, as I was careful to say before, but it was caused by greed and a 'romantic' need to fly the jets for a big airline. <<

Now YOU are being naive! Pilots didn't cause it- it was as much the fault of the airlines for simply not planning for the eventuality. Did they just sit back and assume that all their pilots, deliriously happy with their lot, would stay for 25 years and never look elsewhere?

Also, wanting a career path is no more "greedy" than an airline wanting to make a profit! As for the "romantic" need to fly big jets, I am sure you are aware that those companies (and types) also carry the largest salaries. Maybe it IS romantic to want the best for your family- but then again, perhaps it is just normal behaviour!

>> The bond however, is negated IF the person was sensible enough to ensure that he would not be liable. <<

NOT POSSIBLE with a bank loan bond.

>> And, of course, the very nature of the business means that your aeroplanes go where they will do most good for the company, not I am afraid for the benefit of pilots and their families. <<

All airlines have a moral responsibility for the welfare of their employees- that includes their mental well-being. At the very least, if a company moves base it should give its' crews the choice (see your 15 mile statement) of either staying or leaving. If they choose to enforce a bond in that situation, the pilot effectively has no choice. It HAS been done.

>> Whereas mine has been one of seeing both sides <<

Hands up all readers who agree with that!!!

>> Ah see RD, this is where what I espouse is because I am British and you are a Kiwi, we did something wrong did we? Come on mate, you are here now and you have to accept the British way. <<

That isn't the point at all! The issue is one of rightness or wrongness, not Britishness versus New Zealand-ness (which is why I didn't mention how things are done in NZ).

>> we do what we do because we are what we are. <<

Oh OK then, so we have no obligation to try and do the right thing? We cannot learn from others? You make my point for me.

The bond is a stick (if you leave, I'll hit you with a large bill or leave you to pay off a loan).

My firm certainly does, as previously explained by tilii.

>> making a difference between Kiwi's and British working in the same environment is unfortunate at best <<

Now I didn't do that, you did! I never mentioned Kiwis.

The point is, a good American company will make you want to work for them. A British company will try and prevent you leaving. It is a fundamental difference in approach. Sadly, we (ie the Brits) have a long, long way to go in the area of employee satisfaction. If your employees are happy, they won't leave. Your company will make lots more money with committed, happy employees. The Americans have learned that this is the cheapest and most effective way to run a business.

Anyway... bedtime. What was I saying about a quickie???

excrewingbod
11th Apr 2001, 12:45
Just to add further fuel to the fire.....

Some IT companies DO bond for training courses, but over a shorter time period. It depends depends on the cost or type of training etc.

The Company I used to work for did bond. For example if a course cost 3000 you would be bonded for about 6 months. The reason for the shorter time, is that the IT industry is always trying to catch up with new technology/software, therefore any training starts to lose its worth in a very short time.

Raw Data
11th Apr 2001, 18:37
Quite right, and there are one or two other industries that do as well- I was just hoping InFin would do some research! The point remains, however, that only a small minority of IT companies do so... the major players don't. They would prefer to keep their employees by using good management practices, allied with worthwhile incentives and other motivators. Stick and carrot, again.

A bit different to the UK airline approach to staff satisfaction, which has changed little in 20 years (with the exception of such "innovators" as EuroDirect).

Perhaps the adoptees of the Southwest model would do well to visit one of their "team rallies"...

InFinRetirement
11th Apr 2001, 19:13
I spent the better part of an hour trying to do the decent thing and answer both tilli and RD. Pressed de button and lost the lot.

Not sure I want to it again. We'll see. VERY annoying when that happens. Normally I would catch it in the mouse, but didn't do it!

Pat Pong
11th Apr 2001, 21:59
Come on InFin - don't be a spoil-sport !!

despite the fact that I have to take RD's corner on this one, it is so refreshing to have a gentlemanly and articulate debate for a change.

Raw Data
11th Apr 2001, 22:27
Yeah, come on InFin, this is just getting interesting!!

Just as well I'm on leave...

me-judice
12th Apr 2001, 01:17
Much as I hate to interrupt emotional outpouring with a few facts, I will:-

In general, training bonds of the type discussed are enforceable at law. Nothing in recent EU legislation has changed this position. Not the “.in general.” There are some that are excessively draconian (where the bonded sum is out of all proportion to the costs incurred or the amortisation period is unduly long) that may be a little shaky under English Law.

The BALPA paper referred to earlier in this thread was produced by an experienced practitioner. There has been little substantive change in the law since then.

Always remember the golden rule: anyone who signs an agreement expecting not to be bound by it is a fool.

And yes, I am both lawyer and pilot.


[This message has been edited by me-judice (edited 11 April 2001).]

Flypuppy
12th Apr 2001, 01:42
I currently work as a manager in an IT company and 2 types of training that we provide. One is the Required training. Without the skills and knowledge of this type of training the employee cannot do their job. For this, we "bond" the employee for 6 months, the level of repayment required reducing pro rata over time. If the company decide, or need, to fire the employee the 'bond'is not recovered. Is this the case with airline bonds?

The second type of training is Desirable training. This is where the training augments current skills but does not have a direct bearing on the employee's job. For this type of training the company will "bond" the employee for 12 months with the amount reducing pro rata per month. I have had one employee who did this type of training course and decided that they would skip off to another company 2 months after completing the training (the course cost in excess of GBP4500). I did on a point of principle persue the "bond" and the employee's new employer paid the outstanding balance. Would this sort of arrangement work in aviation? If not why not?

tilii
12th Apr 2001, 03:30
Me-judice

I don’t suppose you really mean to sound pompous, but I do hope you will acknowledge that there were many cogent facts stated above, long before you plonked down your two penneth. Some of us lesser mortals may well be guilty of expressing our emotions above but this is, I aver, because the subject of bonded servitude is rather an emotional one, and has been so since time immemorial.

Believe it or not (and the evidence is before you should you read this and other bonding-related threads carefully enough) most of us are painfully aware of the fact that bonding agreements are legally enforceable without the benefit of your tardy advice.

Though “[n]othing in recent EU legislation has changed this position”, you have carefully avoided expressing an opinion on what is perhaps a more important issue. The Human Rights Act 1998 is British, not EU, legislation. How do you say this Act affects the position with respect to the bonding issue?

May I enquire as to how you know that “[t]he BALPA paper referred to earlier in this thread was produced by an experienced practitioner”? Would you care to describe that practitioner’s experience to us all so that we may henceforth be more trusting of his/her advice.

As to “the golden rule” you say we should all remember, shame on you me-judice. For someone professing to be “both a lawyer and pilot”, I am astonished that you use this term so glibly when you should know from your first year studies in law that the golden rule has nothing to do with contract law but is in fact a rule of construction employed by judges with respect to statutory interpretation, namely to read same according to the ordinary meaning of the words used in the statute unless the result produces illogicality or inconsistency. The golden rule allows a judge to avoid such illogicality in statutory interpretation, but no more.

[snide remark now removed with apologies!]


Flypuppy

A very interesting contribution indeed. Thank you.

You have not said why your company finds it necessary to bond employees in the first instance.

Since you have, by your own statement, only had one employee “skip off to another company” after completing the training to which you refer, what practical value have you sought from the imposition of bonded servitude (albeit of short duration) upon your employees?

As to your having had to “persue [sic]” the aforementioned deviant for the bond, I find it more than a little interesting that his/her new employer coughed up the dough, so to speak. Does this mean that it was his/her new employer you ‘persued’, or was it in fact the employee? And, given your location as stated in your profile, is the said bonding and ‘persuing’ company Dutch or British?

As to your final questions, I think (another emotional outpouring, me-judice) the answer is that the arrangements with respect to bonding are totally unacceptable in whatever form.

[This message has been edited by tilii (edited 12 April 2001).]

NorthernSky
12th Apr 2001, 03:43
Well, it seems that everyone has a view....

Sadly, no-one has replied to my specific post above.

tilii, what are your views on the issue of consideration?

Flypuppy
12th Apr 2001, 04:00
tilii,

From my point of view the "bonding" is there for 2 basic reasons:

1. I have a limited annual budget and I want to get value from my investment. Sounds cold and impersonal I know, but a company exists to make money. If I invest in one of my team I want to get some useful work out of them and if a "bonding" arrangement makes somone stop and think about the moral implications, then so be it.

2. Linked in part to the first reason, the area I work in is suffering a shortage of good and experienced (sound familiar?) people, so by "bonding" people I believe it does make people think about their responsibilities to their employer.

I treat all my team as I would like to be treated: with respect and consideration. I hope I haven't come over as a Capitalist Stormtrooper.

The only reason I pursued the employee that skipped off was because she had taken a course in Web design, which did not really have much to do with her primary task. I agreed to let her do this course as it may have had a future role in our department, but before I could make use of her new skills she had departed. I felt that I had gone out of my way to accomodate her wishes, and that she had abused my trust. I originally sought repayment from her directly, but she discussed it with her new employer who contacted me and we resolved the issue in a businesslike and amicable way. The companies were both Dutch based.

I don't particularly agree with endentured service either tilii, but I don't see it as such. It is only because people have abused the system before that this sort of arrangement has become common.

What I find highly objectionable is when a company bonds somone for an unrealistic amount. I believe it was SIA that bonded some pilots for $100,000 on 747-400's. I don't think that that sort of bonding is fair.

Raw Data
12th Apr 2001, 04:03
Flypuppy-

No-one denies that bonding does happen (to a very limited extent) in some IT companies, but it is far from the norm, particularly amongst the major players. I know this because my sister did three years training with IBM, then left. No bonds, not even a objection from the company. Same goes for a current colleague who used to work for Microsoft. My examples are real-world ones.

Just to clear up another point, back in the midst of the last major pilot shortage, it was relatively common for companies to buy off bonds in order to get pilots. In fact, I still have several response letters from airlines from those days, saying that the information they needed was how many hours I had, what licence I held, and how much was outstanding on my bond. Many pilots changed employers and had their bonds paid, a little like the current EasyJet enticement.

One slightly amusing thing about all this, is the way in which companies who rigorously enforce bonds are usually the ones to try and get you to break yours. I saw an example of this just three weeks back! Rather gives the lie to InFins' management stance.

tilii
12th Apr 2001, 04:04
Hello again, Northern Sky me ole chum.

How goes it?

I thoroughly agree with your assessment of the 'value' of what airlines say is their 'consideration' in bonding agreements. The problem would be convincing members of the judiciary of same.

Notwithstanding the BALPA document, it is very basic contract law we are looking at when we address the issue of consideration. Essentially, the law says one cannot enforce a bare promise (for example, one where you simply say that you promise, out of the goodness of your heart, to give me a million pounds). Unless such promise is made under seal, it is not enforceable.

Sadly, I think most judges will quickly conclude that training (even on an obsolete type) has value of some kind and is thus fair consideration. The law does not seek to save us from our own stupidity. If we make a bad bargain, that is just too bad. Thus, when we sign a bonding agreement with The Guvnor to train on his desert-bound Tristar, we have made a legally enforceable contract. His consideration is that training, ours is to fly the thing for him. Provided that you are so trained and the terms of the agreement on his part are all honoured, fly it for him for the agreed term or pay the price.

Hope that helps. I do understand how it feels to put your mind to something and have it whistle over everyone's head but this line of thought is, I am sorry to say, a dead end, old chum.

It has some merit in the minds of aviators who have some understanding of the relative value of specific type ratings, but tell it to the judge and you're in the proverbial brown stuff, methinks.

[This message has been edited by tilii (edited 11 April 2001).]

InFinRetirement
12th Apr 2001, 04:10
Well after that PP what can I do. Very annoying though, don't know if I can get into gear again. Anyway, I agree that debates should be conducted with decorum. I will have nothing to do with the abuse that often finds it's way on PPRuNe. Btw PP this is supposed to be impartial - ain't seen a sign of it yet!

tilli, let me answer yours first. But I have to say we are going round in circles here and after this I will stop following the oozlum bird and get off the roundabout.

Other industries where they have bonds? Well we now know, just I said, they do. And in the very field RD didn't expect - as he used that example twice. ICL is another computer giant where they do to I checked at their head office today. There are, of course, other company's and it would be extremely naive to think otherwise. OK the 3 Services was stretching it a bit but it's not far from civvy street in that regard.

Your third para indicates that you didn't read my first post very well in regard to the problems caused in my operations. And with you respect you either deliberately missed the point or you completely misunderstood it. The PROBLEM stems from pilots accepting jobs, receiving an IR re-newal and type rating, base check and line checks and then staying for a few months and then departing. That meant we had to employ other pilots and go through the whole process again. How long do you think we should have continued to do that tilli? One fast jet pilot stayed for ONE month and went to BCal. I could have sued and won probably, but I had good relations with BCal and one Curly Walters, and I was not about rock the boat. It was a very soft approach on my part.

After that I took steps to avoid the problem in the future. But I would like to know how you know that operations didn't go down as a direct result of NOT bonding. You didn't know that I was having problems at the time but I can give you the names of the companies - but I am not going to.

I am sorry you are worried that my post mentioned pilots wanting jobs. But I didn't mention that it was abnormal. And what was wrong in asserting, though I didn't, that pilots and airlines go together. Can you think of another way to operate aeroplanes?

Profitability is the ONLY reason people run airlines. There NO inbetween. No other way. An aeroplane sitting on the ground if worthless junk if it ain't earning money. Who earns that money - the pilots! However, pilots cannot hold an airline to ransom, or expect that they hold the airline in their pocket! Oh that happens too. But it is incumbent on the airline to ensure that they treat pilots with respect - and even reverence. But that does NOT include GIVING them the opportunity to leave after they have been given expensive training. The bond was put in place to ensure that they KNEW what the consequences of that were. They accepted it and they signed a contract to endorse it. Crying wolf later is pointless and crass. Those that then moan because they don't like the hardness of the bullet they have to bite should look back at what they agreed to. Were there shotguns on the table when they signed? No! So the airline simply protects itself from the few who think that it is good for a screw.

Sorry tilli, but I can't have been explaining myself very well. Let me try this. If a company, any company, wants to remove itself to another part of the country it can do that without any reference to it's employees. What it must do, however, is inform them, and if the distance is greater than 15 miles and the employee does not want to go he can claim redundancy. If he is also bonded the company cannot include that in the package. Then, if the employee has no further contract with them, he can walk away. That some silly people didn't do that in recent times is down to them.

"Surely I can do better than that can't you". I'm trying tilli, against all odds and onesidedness!

Btw tilli, in answer to your question. I know RD quite well, I know his company quite well, I know the CEO quite well, I knew the previous boss quite well and I knew Jack Walker quite well. Does that answer your question?

RD
After the fiasco of losing the thread! ummmmm. It has given you time to realise that there are TWO computer companies, though why you chose IT's I will never know, who have bonds. There are other company's but I am NOT going to do research as you would like. I have more than enough work on PPRuNe to do.

So, I wonder why you took the point about BA. BA wouldn't have a problem with pilots bonding would they. They are the very company that pilots left most us smaller airlines in the lurch for!!

As I said the 3 services was stretching it a bit far, but the principal is still the same. Mind you they can go to the nick if they try to abscond!!!

We are, in all probablity, thinking of different airlines that went down in the 80's - understandable. But it makes no difference they did suffer severely as a result of NOT getting the bond under way. Don't forget too that it was BM who placed it on the map as it were. And it was they who first tested it in court - and won.

I am getting the point about a bonded bank loan. But I then to have to ask. WHY did you accept it? As I said to tilli, did they have shotguns at the ready? Were you so desperate for a job that you let the company nail your backside to the wall? Did you get advice? Does it affect your work performance? Shall I go on RD? Very unsatisfactory indeed.

So how do you plan for of dishonest pilots using an airline to get their licences and then leaving them having "taken" up to 25,000 out of the company's bank account?

Now we come to being British. I am actually quite proud of that but that is beside the point. What you said was the British have a certain way of dealing with things. Well, the point I was trying to make was that you have chosen to work in a British Society and in the same environment that is British. You cannot argue with that. But you chose to do so. Like I said we are what we are. The fact that you chose to work in this environment means that you choose, or not, to accept it. Whingeing about it will not alter it. We do some daft things in this country, but doesn't every country do that?

I just cannot grasp your real meaning in your last para RD, the fact is that you have to find the symptom before you can cure it. Pilots and airlines alike have not come near to finding how to cure the symptons. Perhaps one day they will but I doubt it. One reason for this is that there is a deep underlying mistrust of each other. Now how would you see that being cured? Tell you what RD. You'll never see it in your lifetime and neither will the current generation of young pilots. It will require a new sense of well being - and hell might just freeze over before that happens.

I am getting to end of this and I have enjoyed it but I can hold my hand on my heart and say that I did have a high regard for those pilots who were loyal to me. I returned it in full measure.

30 of my pilots went to BA, and about another 40 went to Virgin, Britannia, Monarch, Air 2000, Airtours and other operations all round the world. I met one in Florida three weeks ago having a great life.

No sticks RD. Not once, but plenty of respect for them is what I gave, and what is need now. That I was also a pilot helped too and perhaps this is where one particular Chairman of a major comes unstuck. He hates pilots! But he is good at getting their backs up and they would all like to do him in I expect. I would like to meet him to give him some good advice. Never treat your pilots with contempt, they fly your aeroplanes and make your money.

But pilots also have a problem. So long as they treat an airline with contempt and disregard they will always be bonded. It's the name of the game and it will remain.

Bed for me now but a good debate. I hope my input has been at least a little bit useful.

InFinRetirement
12th Apr 2001, 04:39
Tilli, come now! I would have expected rather more from you. me-judice has obviously made a pro-nouncemnt that you don't want to hear. Sticking one's head in the sand it what this whole problem is about.

I mentioned in my last post that since BM won a case in the High Court, the law on bonding is enforceable. It is NOW law, check on it yourself. Is your library open tomorrow?

I also made reference to abuse. I include in that snide remarks. They are unnecessary. RD and I have been in agreement before on put downs, and we didn't like it. If me-judice wishes to respond he will, but if he wishes to treat you with contempt for doubting him, you deserve it. I don't think he has to explain his comments to you or me anymore than I have to explain mine to you.
We choose if we wish too.

Now please, I am withdrawing but no more snide. It is unworthy and spoils a good debate.

tilii
12th Apr 2001, 05:20
Flypuppy and InFinRetirement

[edit - InFin, your last post above popped up while I wrote this. Did you actually read the one above by me addressed to Northern Sky? If so, you will surely see that I am fully aware of the law on bonding. I merely question whether or not me-judice is. I will now edit out the only remark I acknowledge is unacceptable.]

I wonder if I might ask you to do something? If you take the time to read each other’s last posts you may be quite surprised to read that you each have a lot in common.

For example, you both argue for bonding on moral grounds, at least so far as they apply to your employees. Again, you both seem to wish us to accept that you love/d your team and had great respect for them, particularly those that were loyal to you.

But most importantly, I feel, you both refer to just one individual who ‘done you in’, so to speak, with respect to running off after training. OK, InFin, you counted up those who had gone elsewhere but you made no claim that each of those had jumped ship immediately after training or while bonded.

It really is interesting to see the similarity in thought, moral stance, and tale of betrayal by an employee that you share – AS EMPLOYERS.

Now, may I ask if either of you acknowledge the existence of airline employers who let down their employees, or lied to them, or conned them into taking a job with a bond and then used that bond as a coercive tool? Oh yes, such employers do exist.

And so we get down to the nitty gritty at last. The fact is that there are at least as many abuses BY employers as there are OF employers. And I think, in fact, that we might agree with each other in many ways, especially with regard to the way we should treat each other as opposed to what happens in daily life.

InFin is right to point to a deep seated mistrust underlying employer/employee relationships – and not just in the UK (look at the SIA thread, or reflect upon the OZ pilot dispute). That mistrust is, I aver, founded upon bad experiences on both sides. Why, then, does this have to continue? Why this ‘us and them’ approach? So very much of what InFin has to say is actually in favour of change, despite his assertion that such change “will require a new sense of well being - and hell might just freeze over before that happens”.

Well being is, as InFin says, a sense, or a state of mind. It does not in fact take very much to change the collective state of mind. The question is simply one of who will start the ball rolling? Frankly, I think that is down to the employers. As RD has rightly said, employers in the US adopt an entirely different approach – and it seems to work without bonding. Why can’t we try that here?

Though I speak out strongly against bonding, I am the first to acknowledge that bad employees need to be taken to task, perhaps by their peers. That surely does not mean bonding for the vast majority of us.

I am old enough to remember the days when bonding did not exist in the UK airline vocabulary and, frankly, I believe that the esteemed profession of airline pilot was at its peak at that time. The slippery slope down which the profession has been sliding for at least the last 20 years has more to do with a fundamental, collective greed and selfishness than with the imposition of bonding. Bonding agreements are a symptom of the underlying disease.

When will employers and employees alike wake up and reject this ‘us and them’ philosophy?

[This message has been edited by tilii (edited 12 April 2001).]

Flypuppy
12th Apr 2001, 14:06
Sorry, this a bit on the long side.
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The total cost of this type of training comes to 8665.00. Add the cost of transport and accomodation and the total cost to the company will be over 10,000. This kind of expertise is sought after in the IT market, and imagine your training budget for the Finacial Year is only 50,000. You would be a tad peeved if you put one of your team through this kind of course and they bailed out on you within a couple of months. From a business point of view, you have not realised any return on investment. Why shouldn't a company try to recover the lost investment?

Certainly in our company the employee does not pay for any of their training, by witholding money out of salary (as British Midland, and I believe BA, do for their Cadet Pilot schemes). It is only if an employee decides to bite the hand that fed it and make use of their new found desirability in the employment market will the company penalise the employee. From both an employee and an employer point of view I dont find this unreasonable. As for just one person "doing me in", well it has only happened to me personally once, companywide and industry wide it became something of an epidemic a few years ago, hence the introduction of this type of "bonding".

Raw Data, you will find that many IT companies will have similar clauses in built into their contracts. It is not described as bonding, per se, but the effect is similar. These clauses are there to prevent a competitor gaining an edge at your expense. Normally the time limit is for 6 or 12 months. So if your sister completed some form of training and then left after 6 months had elapsed since that course the company wouldn't raise an eybrow. You will also find that Microsoft would be unlikely to raise an objection to your colleague, as he was not leaving to work for a competitor company.


[This message has been edited by Flypuppy (edited 12 April 2001).]

tilii
12th Apr 2001, 15:20
Flypuppy

I'll get back to you in more depth later. Meanwhile, think about this:

Course to obtain the skills to operate an aircraft. Any UK approved flying training organisation. Cost to student about 60,000.

Runs, on average, full-time for a year.

Student funds this himself either through pre-existing family wealth or from monies earned (after tax) in employment.

Even type training on a modern heavy jet does not equal this kind of personal outlay for a budding pilot.

Tell us, then, how many of your IT employees expend this kind of sum before being able to sit down at one of your computers as a basic employee?

Further, how many of your employees could find themselves unable to continue in their employment (and thereby reap the reward from their outlay) on the basis of reassessment and evaluation of performance, and full medical check, on a six-monthly basis ongoing for their entire working lives?

There is, in my mind, no comparison to be made. What do you think?

FNG
12th Apr 2001, 15:25
This is in response to tliii's question (in his response to me-judice's post) about the Human Rights Act 98. As I posted near the start of this thread, the Act is unlikely to be relevant to the enforceability of a bond. It does not deal with socio-economic rights. There is, for example, no protected right to work.

I would disagree slightly with me-judice on two points:-

(1) EU law might, just conceivably, allow an argument based on free movement of workers (this was the argument used to bust the football transfer system), but in order to make this argument good you would have to show that bonding has a measurable, adverse and disproportionate impact on the EU pilot job market. Not easy.

(2) Although me-judice is right to say that substantive law hasn't changed much since the BALPA opinion was written, judicial approaches to restraint of trade arguments do fluctuate, and if agreements do not keep up with the state of the art on drafting appropriately limited restraints they can come a cropper.

FNG
(employment) lawyer and (private) pilot

Flypuppy
12th Apr 2001, 16:35
tilii,

I don't need to think about the investment a pilot makes in his/her own future. I have remortgaged my house and will spend 9 months of my life away from my family in order to chase my childhood dream. Including loss of earnings and fixed costs my total investment (including my PPL and the 300 hours I have) will be well in excess of 82,000. The emotional investment, I cannot put a value on. Please don't lecture me on what it costs to become a pilot.

In approxomately a years time I will be looking for my first job in aviation. If I have to sign a bond to the company that is going to give me my first break, well, so be it. I will accept it as long as I see it to be fair to both parties. If a company is willing to risk an investment in me I am willing to repay that with my loyalty.

What I was showing with my posts is that a form of bonding exists outside of the aviation world. It is difficult to draw an informed comparison as I don't really know what a 737 type rating costs.

InFinRetirement
12th Apr 2001, 17:49
Hi FP, with groundschool, fixed base sim, sim hours, time in the air on said machine, line checks and other costs. Getting on for 20-25,000. A fair piece of dosh.

If the airline can get it all discounted it won't be less than 18,000 I would have thought. But I guess someone will pop with some definitive figures sooner or later. :)

The original 'investment' for your licence cannot, of course, ever be paid back. There is no such way. But you have to invest to get the dream!

The rewards will get better in my view. As the pilot shortage gets worse. My bet? The shortage will hit hardest in 2003. And then the dog eats dog syndrome will get well underway. Just as it did in 1985/6. Good luck mate!

Raw Data
12th Apr 2001, 18:33
InFin-

&gt;&gt; Well we now know, just I said, they do. And in the very field RD didn't expect - as he used that example twice. &lt;&lt;

Actually, I did. However, as I also said, it is not widespread in IT- see my response to Flypuppy later.

&gt;&gt; Profitability is the ONLY reason people run airlines. There NO inbetween. No other way. &lt;&lt;

Sorry, incorrect. For example, SABENA. Many other state-run airlines are similarly unprofitable, but are maintained for reasons of national prestige or simply necessity.

&gt;&gt; But it is incumbent on the airline to ensure that they treat pilots with respect - and even reverence. &gt;&gt;

Please elucidate which airlines do that!

&gt;&gt; if the distance is greater than 15 miles and the employee does not want to go he can claim redundancy. If he is also bonded the company cannot include that in the package. &lt;&lt;

Nice idea, but seldom works in practice. I remember when I left Loganair, they tried to chase me for the cost of re-training on the 360 (I had been flying the J31 for a couple of years). Despite the fact that they had moved my base 40 miles, and I had not signed any sort of agreement regarding the re-training, the chased me for their "costs". In the end, they got it by witholding holiday pay and other monies due to me. I chased them via a tribunal, however the costs to me were going to be higher than the sum I was chasing, so I had to reluctantly let it go. Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour is not uncommon. They had no legal right to behave as they did, they just did it anyway and relied on the difficulty of retrieving the sum to protect them. I know you like to think that employers are always honest and are basically hard-done-by, but it just ain't true.

&gt;&gt; . I know RD quite well, I know his company quite well, I know the CEO quite well, I knew the previous boss quite well and I knew Jack Walker quite well. Does that answer your question? &lt;&lt;

Name-dropper!! ;)

&gt;&gt; So, I wonder why you took the point about BA. BA wouldn't have a problem with pilots bonding would they. They are the very company that pilots left most us smaller airlines in the lurch for!! &lt;&lt;

Because you said "airlines" (implying all airlines), and I simply showed you an airline that did not do as you suggested. Just keeping the argument tight.

&gt;&gt; As I said the 3 services was stretching it a bit far, but the principal is still the same. &lt;&lt;

No it isn't, for the reasons stated (ie no profit motive).

&gt;&gt; But it makes no difference they did suffer severely as a result of NOT getting the bond under way. &lt;&lt;

They DID suffer, but it wasn't not bondng that pushed them over the edge (as you imply).

&gt;&gt; I am getting the point about a bonded bank loan. But I then to have to ask. WHY did you accept it? As I said to tilli, did they have shotguns at the ready? Were you so desperate for a job that you let the company nail your backside to the wall? Did you get advice? Does it affect your work performance? Shall I go on RD? Very unsatisfactory indeed. &lt;&lt;

Not at all. I accepted it, because when I joined the company on the F27, I was already type-rated and therefore not bonded. When I moved to the jet (my fleet was being retired if you remember), I was bonded for 3 years/18K. I seem to recall you don't agree with this form of bonding! I agreed because if I hadn't, I would have had to have changed employers, and may well have had to accept unemployment (with no unemployment benefits) for some considerable time. So you can see, the company did actually hold a gun to my head- sign this, or leave, is what it effectively came down to. I did test the market for alternatives prior to signing, however at that point there wasn't a lot about. Also, I have no intention of leaving at this point in my career, so the question doesn't arise- very happy with the company as it happens.

&gt;&gt; So how do you plan for of dishonest pilots using an airline to get their licences and then leaving them having "taken" up to 25,000 out of the company's bank account? &lt;&lt;

Frankly, the true cost of the training is not likely to be what most companies bond for.

&gt;&gt; . Like I said we are what we are. The fact that you chose to work in this environment means that you choose, or not, to accept it. Whingeing about it will not alter it. We do some daft things in this country, but doesn't every country do that? &lt;&lt;

You are saying that just because we are British, we can do what we want and that is OK, because, after all, we are BRITISH. I am saying that there are much, much better ways to do things, and they should be adopted because they are RIGHT, not because they are British, or American, or whatever.

&gt;&gt; One reason for this is that there is a deep underlying mistrust of each other. Now how would you see that being cured? Tell you what RD. You'll never see it in your lifetime and neither will the current generation of young pilots. &lt;&lt;

That is only true, and I say this with the greatest of respect, if we cling to outdated managment practices. Several companies have shown that co-operation can work, for example Southwest Airlines (in the early days), and outside the airlines, companies like Sun Microsystems, or Nissan in Sunderland. There are many, many others I could choose from, and most have been turned around by having a CEO with the courage and vision to try a new path. Thats all it needs. Valuing employees, and respecting them, is quite common outside the airline industry, but very uncommon inside it.

&gt;&gt; No sticks RD. Not once, but plenty of respect for them is what I gave, and what is need now. &lt;&lt;

What you did, and what other airlines do, are not the same thing (which is the point of the thread). No matter how you slice it, the bond is a stick.

Flypuppy-

It isn't clear from your post whether you actually bond folk for the costs, or just have a clause preventing them from leaving, or going to another, similar, employer. If the latter, it isn't even close to the same thing that we are talking about.

If you do bond them for the monetary value of their training, a 6-12 month bond is inconsequential- it is the three year bonds that most people dislike, and that is the real issue here- the length of the bond.

Raw Data
12th Apr 2001, 18:43
InFin-

just a quickie...

&gt;&gt; Hi FP, with groundschool, fixed base sim, sim hours, time in the air on said machine, line checks and other costs. Getting on for 20-25,000. A fair piece of dosh.
If the airline can get it all discounted it won't be less than 18,000 I would have thought. But I guess someone will pop with some definitive figures sooner or later. &lt;&lt;

And this just illustrates another unfairness in the system. I remember a previous employer I worked for, who introduced some fine BAe types (ATP, J31, J41). We all went off to PIK for our courses, and naturally we were all bonded for them. However, I was later told (by the head of the training school at PIK) that all the initial courses had in fact been provided free as part of the purhase/lease package- no an uncommon practice.

The upshot- those who left early and paid their bonds (or had them paid for by other airlines), were paying for training that the company had itself never paid for! Surely this is fraudulent, and another example of how cynical employers can be.

[Edited for typo]

[This message has been edited by Raw Data (edited 12 April 2001).]

tilii
12th Apr 2001, 20:17
RD

Just another quickie:

I once worked for BAe at Hatfield. Fact is, the training of a specified number of crews on the type is not just "not uncommon", it is standard practice with most aircraft manufacturers. When BAe was selling the 146, I seem to recall that the deal was that the price included training 10 pilots for each airframe sold.

Naturally, there will be those who will argue that this was not 'free' training because the airline paid for the airframes. But how would one go about quantifying the true cost of such training for bond enforcement purposes in a court of law? Problematic, to say the least.

Flypuppy

Why take offence at me offering a perspective in response to your several examples of the paltry sums charged for IT training?

"Please don't lecture me on what it costs to become a pilot." Since I expended an equivalent sum (as well as the emotional investment to which you quite rightly refer) many moons ago I surely have the right to talk about that expenditure.

As to fulfilling childhood dreams, I actually fulfilled that one at the age of 19. What on earth possesses you to: leave your present (presumably worthwhile) career in IT management, remortgage your home, and abandon your family for 9 months to become an airline pilot? As InFin has so rightly said, you are never likely to see a return on that investment, particularly when compared with the earnings of an IT Manager. I wonder what your family think of this move?

[This message has been edited by tilii (edited 12 April 2001).]

kennedy
12th Apr 2001, 20:19
RD
According to the Flight Safety guys and girls, JY also got the free training on the DHC-8's as well. Pity I'm still bonded.

Just another thought to add to this debate, with the introduction of JAR-OPS it is now a requirement to be MCC'ed (Multi-crew Rated), Does anyone agree that this course should be bonded? (4000 at JY)

InFinRetirement
12th Apr 2001, 21:06
RD, had to come back on that. Wasn't going to make anymore on this but I absolutely agree with you in regard to being bonded on free training. What costs there were to the airline were minimal, and it grieves me that some airline management have such thick skins, that they cannot think about the damage they do.

There is one such person who is currently at the top of his airline (the airline he WORKS for!) and he insults his pilots and staff regularly with pathetic attempts to impress them. Like a bottle of champers! A cake at Christmas. What amazes me is that if he realised this it would make no difference. He is a prat that the owner loves - because he is ruthless. And inevitably lines his pockets too. In return this idiot gets nearly 400k a year and inummerable shares in the company. But HE gives the business a bad name.

That style of management has NO place in aviation but there is nothing anyone can do about it. A mass walk out might help but that will never happen either.

Your point on fraud, sounds valid but it probably isn't. I would never have done that. Amazing!

tilii
13th Apr 2001, 00:32
InFinRetirement

Sorry to read that you aren't going to "make anymore on this". Guess this means you don't "choose" (as you said in your rather snooty, castigating post to me) to answer the questions I asked.

Ah well, InFin, I suppose your last post to RD would not fit within your definition of "snide"? The chap you describe might take issue with you on that one. And what on earth is wrong with champers and cake, then?

With respect, there are many styles of management that have no place in aviation, and most of those have been discussed on this thread, a thread I have thoroughly enjoyed - up to the point where you became the self-appointed thought policeman.

As to your remark to RD about fraud, the practice he describes is scurrilous, immoral even, but (rather like bonding) it is not unlawful. Neither is it amazing.

TTFN.

Raw Data
13th Apr 2001, 01:08
Yes, OK I didn't really mean fraudulent in the legal, exact sense... more of the moral sense.

Speaking of Law, I would have thought that this from InFin-

&gt;&gt; I mentioned in my last post that since BM won a case in the High Court, the law on bonding is enforceable. It is NOW law, check on it yourself. Is your library open tomorrow?&lt;&lt;

- is incorrect. Surely what BM have done is set a precedent, not changed the Law. Different thing, n'est pas?

me-judice
13th Apr 2001, 04:09
Tilli – a remark must be interpreted in the light of the intended audience. I doubt that the majority of Pprune folk will have been lead down the dry and dusty road of statutory interpretation by my admittedly lax use of a professional phrase! My comment has a serious intent, for I too in the dim and distant past was the subject of such an bonding agreement.
I can see nothing in the HRA that might have a bearing on the bonding issue but am of course open to persuasive argument. Over to you.
FNG – restraint of trade has been the traditional defence employed in bonding situations, with a notable lack of success, although the cases of which I am aware pre-date the Bosman EU ruling to which you refer. I concur with your assessment of the chances of utilising this and similar judgements in situations to which this thread refers.

tilii
13th Apr 2001, 04:40
RD

Contract law is case driven, that is to say that it is almost entirely based upon precedent. Thus, if what InFin stated with regard to BM is fact, it seems probable that it has established law (since InFin implies that it was the first case on the subject of bonding). I would be grateful if anyone here is able to cite the case in question. I have not found a BM case of any significance with respect to bonding in High Court cases, only in the Industrial Court.

On a more positive note, you are right in another respect in that precedent in the cases does not set the law in concrete. Change should, and does, occur as has been pointed to by FNG. And different facts in any particular case allow room for manoeuvre in legal argument.

Despite precedent already set, I remain optimistic that, in the fullness of time, the practice of bonding pilots in the tens of thousands of pounds over several years will eventually be held to be unlawful. This will probably not happen in the High Court but in a meritorious case appealed all the way to the Court of Appeal and/or the House of Lords.

By the way, RD, I have enjoyed the spirit and the content of your arguments. Very well done indeed.