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BA Pilot's sex discrimination case. (Update: Now includes Tribunal's judgement)

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BA Pilot's sex discrimination case. (Update: Now includes Tribunal's judgement)

Old 12th Jan 2005, 11:41
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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Well as a father with a year old daughter good luck to her. BA have dug themslves into a right hole over this and they deserve to lose.


The mothers of 80% of under 5's work. Get used to the modern world. Companies must be flexible. BA will get another 25 years out of this pilot. Its not a 2 aeroplane cut me own throat operation. A company of that size should be able to cope with a few people wanting to go part time for a couple of years to look after children/ elderly relative/ pre-retirement etc.
I would think they will be looking for a few more A320 pilots pretty darn quick when this is over to cover the others who will go part time.

Finally here are 2 questions

1) will she do more or less sectors on the A320 part time than a full time 744 pilot?
2)If she had wanted to reduce her flying to 50% in order to become a pilot manager as oposed to parent what would BA's response have been?
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:07
  #102 (permalink)  
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Well this has all caused a furore.
Whatever one may think of this case, and I personally think it should be slung out, JS has rather messed her bed aviationwise.
I for one would try very hard to avoid employing her if she ever appeared in front of me at a selection. She is no champion for anything other than her own agenda. There is here an element of self centered renegation of contract which, whilst I carry no banner for BA, I fnd unfair. A swingeing attempt to use emotional issues, some might call it blackmail, in order to change terms and conditions of employment because of a wilful act which was plannable, predictable and preventable cannot be quite right. Even if not quite so wilful, would the wise one not have insurance in the event of contraceptive failure to cover the resultant potential nanny fees? Perhaps BALPA might be able to offer some sort of cover advice for this contingency since that organization chooses to involve itself so deeply in this emotive issue. Furthermore, why is BALPA is so involved in this matter anyway? What politics flow under the surface here? I hope that, if the tribunal find in JS's favour, the composite members have the opportunity to thrash through a northern winter flight with a low time, inexperienced and somewhat uncurrent crew. That should ginger them up a bit. An award for excellence because of an engine failure drill successfully carried out? That sort of mishap happens all the time in the world of third level carriers. That's part of what we get trained and paid for. The alternative is potential suicide which might just be what JS is about to inflict on the very cause she purports to expound
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:23
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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1) will she do more or less sectors on the A320 part time than a full time 744 pilot?
Probabably not. But then, with her 1,200hr experience quoted elsewhere, she's unlikely to have the "experience" to be on the 744 fleet. 1,200hr wouldn't get you to an interview with some carriers.
Anyway, what about check & training pilots? Last month, I managed 1 landing. This month, I'll be lucky to complete 2 & February aint looking much better. The difference, however, is that I - and all the other checkers & trainers - have developed the skills to cope through experience.

2)If she had wanted to reduce her flying to 50% in order to become a pilot manager as oposed to parent what would BA's response have been?
Looking at it practically, how likely is someone with 4 yrs in BA (given the number of pilots they have with more experience & also ably qualified) going to be considered for such a role? I give her 2 chances - slim & fat.

Only my humble opinion, (I don'y work for BA & only know what I've seen in the press/media) but BA is not refusing her a part-time contract; she can have a 75% one now & when she achieves 2,000hr total she can have a 50% one - just like all their other pilots, male & female.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:30
  #104 (permalink)  
 
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It can be hard to take a clear view on this simply because it's not clear whether all the facts are in the public domain or not.

Certainly, from what I have read here and elsewhere, a pilot joined an airline on certain terms and conditions. Those T&C's led the pilot to believe that they might be able to make a long-term and intensive commitment to something outside of the workplace on the grounds that they could enter into a 50% part-time working arrangement. On application for this arrangement, the pilot saw their application refused and the eligibility criteria for said arrangement changed to their detriment.

There is a genuine cause for grievance here, a case to be answered. A case of breach of contract perhaps, or a dispute over the terms of employment. Alas, not so. The issue is considered sexual discrimination on the grounds that 'women are more likely than men to apply for 50% part-time working'.

I can understand, given WR's commentary, why this might be so - but I simply don't buy it. The rules are equally applied to all. That the likelihood is that more women would apply than men is not down to the airline. All staff are equally entitled to apply and the fact that more women do so than man is hardly attributable to the airline. I personally agree that mothers and fathers should both become more equally responsible for the raising of children, and over time perhaps general society will agree. In the meantime, to apparently hold the airline to account because of the attitudes of society seems itself to be somewhat discriminatory. If the mother wins this case, it will leave a taste of affirmative action in many mouths - which is fine, if you consider such policies to be an adequate way forward.

Some mentioned that it is shocking that BA don't have a policy on this, and are waiting for the tribunal to decide what the policy is. Actually, it isn't that strange. Given WR's viewpoint, it's easy to imagine that they do have a view on it and would like to implement it, yet are waiting for the outcome of this tribunal to see whether such a policy is legally enforceable, lest they find themselves in yet more hot water.

It could be argued that the way this claim has been interpreted is nothing more than a display of cynicism, almost as if a breach of contract claim or dispute over the terms of employment wouldn't stir the emotions as much as a sexual discrimination case would (as evident already on this thread). As if the airline wouldn't be as quick to perhaps offer concessions or an 'out of court settlement' (either literal or metaphorical) if the grievance was claimed to be more as it appears to some of us bystanders. As if the 'other' ways of presenting this grievance wouldn't provide the same level of polarised, populist support from sympathetic quarters.

Questions that, if answered, might crystallise opinion on this issue include:
  • Has the father, a pilot with the same airline, considered applying for 50% working instead of the mother? Parentship is a joint responsibility. As people have said, it shouldn't necessarily be 'left to the woman' in this day and age. As a captain with the same airline, surely he'd have the requisite hours to qualify for the arrangement. If this move hasn't been considered by the couple, why not?
  • Would the airline and the couple concerned be willing to enter into an arrangement whereby both of them work 75%? Again - if not, why not? Is it the case whereby it is only suitable for the couple if the mother is the one working part-time? Or is the father already working part-time already?
  • If I can play devil's advocate for a moment, if neither of the above alternatives have been considered by the couple, who exactly is being the stereotypical 'dinosaurs'? The people on this thread at whom the accusation is levelled? Or the parents for failing to adopt the progressive, modern-thinking attitude that both parents could be responsible for the upkeep of the child?

In the absence of the above answers, it can be easy to jump to incorrect assumptions about the case. Yet in the absence of those same answers (and, perhaps, even with them) it can be understood why the 'can't have the cake and eat it' school of thought seems to the fore in many.

Finally, there are two sides to every story... except this one. Here there are four. There are those who choose to adopt the attitudes of old, who don't believe that women shouldn't be on the flight deck and who will use this case to cement their beliefs. There are those flag-waving equalitistas who will say that this is blatant sexual discrimination, who will huff and puff about chauvinism and about how 'we make the right noises but we still aren't really trying, are we?' and who will maintain that women should be eligible for any job they want (which is true) and be able to stay in them on whatever terms of employment are required to facilitate their motherhood at whatever personal cost or incovenience is required, as long as none of it is borne by the mother (which is perhaps more debateable). In the middle ground, you have reasonable and articulate individuals who look at the arguments objectively and decide to come down on either side of the fence. Sometimes, sadly, only to be accused of being liberal tree-hugging luvvies or of having prehistoric attitudes by those with more 'extreme' views on the other side of the fence. I hope that those on that middle ground, on both sides of the argument, cannot discuss this openly and objectively without running the risk of having our character assassinated (often wrongly so).
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:38
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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It must be very difficult for her to cope - particularly since her partner is also a BA pilot.

I reckon that BA will have to back down though. I dont see the problem at all. Why should people have to work flat out all the time anyway? There are loads of pilots wanting to take up the slack who would love to join BA. The currency thing is a matter for the CAA.

One could argue that a part-time 0.5 FTE pilot may arrive at work happier and more well rested and therefore safer in any case

This child friendly legislation thing will come up again and again - .... and not just at BA ... it makes sense for mothers and fathers to be with their children and not at work all the time...
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:49
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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Will a 50% roster actually help her? She will still have to work full shifts when she is at work, so will still not be able to get the childcare outside normal working hours.

I think a lot of changes are imminent in this field. As a new dad with a working wife, this is becoming a big issue for me. A company willing to bring in child friendly policies will make itself a preferred employer very quickly.

As always, the balance has to be struck. If we want reduced rosters and flexible practices, we have to be prepared to be hit in the wallet.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 12:52
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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There are loads of pilots wanting to take up the slack who would love to join BA.
Maybe, but maybe not. Presumably anybody who joins BA specifically to 'take up the slack' would be joining on a part-time contract themselves - and possibly a finite contract according to however long Ms Starmer wished to remain on part-time working.

I know many pilots and of those out-of-work, I'd speculate that they're all seeking full-time employment, not part-time. And what happens when the person being 'covered' returns? Does the cover pilot lose their job, and the seniority that they may have accrued while doing it?

If you're going to force the part-time working issue on BA then, as someone else rightly stated, it should be done with legislation so that all EU carriers are subject to the same rules.

Let's not forget that BA laid off a lot of pilots because it said it needed to trim the workforce due cost. If the staff numbers are then increased again, due an increasing proportion of people going part-time (and note the BALPA statement which seems less to do with Ms Starmer's specific circumstances and more to do with PT working being more widely available across the fleets) then, unless all carriers are subject to the same legislation, BA could lose all the competitive advantage it gained by laying off those pilots.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 13:02
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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As I understood it is EU legislations which have brought the matter of part time working to the fore. It is available to both men and women who have "caring responsibilities"
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 13:05
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ptg raises an interesting question:-
______________________________________________
Will a 50% roster actually help her? She will still have to work full shifts when she is at work, so will still not be able to get the childcare outside normal working hours.

______________________________________________

Where exactly is child friendly employment going to stop?

1. Mum feels that it would be better if she were at home overnight, so that she would be there if one of the children wakes up with a nightmare, so can she not be rostered any night duties and they be shared out instead amongst the male employees or the other females who choose not to have a family?

2. Mum feels it would be better not to work weekends, it is easier to use kindergartens etc during the week and weekends are important for family bonding and meeting other family groups

3. Preferential rights for leave, it is important to be off during the school holidays or at Christmas which is after all a very child friendly time of the year. So mums should have first choice of leave


All these things are arguable and it is easy to see that some would say yes that they are reasonable. Others would argue that it is unfair on the other pilots to discriminate against them just to please motherhood. Then before you know it Jews will be demanding evey friday off alongside the Moslems, and all the junior FO's will become born again Christians as the only way of getting a Sunday off.

No, flying is not, and never has been, a family friendly job alongside many others such as nursing, firemen etc. who work unsociable hours.

We knew that when we joined, of our own free will.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 13:07
  #110 (permalink)  

 
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Jessica was a BA sponsored student who finished Oxford in early 2001. BA have invested a fortune in her and as such deserve a return. In the same period that she has clocked up a massive 1100 hours I have clocked up 3000 hours, even with maternity leave it sounds like she was working part time!

How is it discriminatory? When she reaches 2000 hours she will be able to go 50% At the moment it is felt that with the hours she has, she isnt experienced enough to keep up her flying skills whilst flying at 50% I would tend to agree, based on the last four years minus 1 for maternity she has only flown 300ish a year full time, cut this to 150 and you have a recipe for disaster. This would apply to both men and women, so how is this discrimanatory?
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 13:18
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BA didn't actually lay off any pilots, it just made the rest work up to 50% harder, which is why there is massive demand for part time working particularly on short haul where a lot of junior people are getting mightily cheesed off with not having a weekend off for 6 months and not seeing their kids for more than a couple of hours in 6 days. This is the primary reason BA are fighting this case; not because there is a safety issue involved but because they fear they will be deluged with requests for increased part time working from every direction. Thats costs money, which directly affects the bonuses of Flight Ops management! The company claims it can't afford it, yet offers part time working and job share in spades in other parts of the company rather than grasp the nettle and cut unnecessary jobs and expenditure. There are double standards at play in that respect.

Whoever said four years experience wasn't sufficient experience in BA for a management job may be surprised to learn that there is a flight manager with less than 4 years in BA and the general manager for the Airbus has less that 7 years in the company. Admittedly they were experienced pilots hired from other airlines, but the company has previously allowed ex-cadets with less than four years to take on pseudo-management roles which reduced their flying hours significantly.

Finally as it all seems to be getting quite personal with people asking why both parents don't go 75%, well the answer is they are already.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 13:34
  #112 (permalink)  
 
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Right, hang on.

The thing I like about BA is that they employ female pilots who are real women - not women trying to be men in a man's world.

Women bring a different perspective to this job, and it's valuable.

As far as I can see, the only people who can't have it all are the company. If you hire female pilots, then you have to accept that in this kind of job you are obliged to make provisions for the gender difference. Nobody said we want equal rights. Face it, this lifestyle means it is hard to be a working mother. And obviously our priorities change over-night when we give birth in a way that the fathers' priorities really don't. So of course there needs to be a way to compromise so that the kids don't suffer as a consequence.

Don't make us choose between being pilots and being mothers. Because we didn't automatically make any sacrifice when we signed our contracts nor should that be something that comes to be expected of us.

A job is a job, but come on, children and family are really the only thing that keeps you warm at night guys. And Carnage, I have just been refused part - time by BA while my flat mate was granted it. The difference being she got it at the end of last year and I requested it now - and they said they are having a big clamp down. Reason being everyone wants it now. We are tired, working hard and we are cheesed off in general - I for one want more time to live my life. I thought this was a job, not a life sentence.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 14:01
  #113 (permalink)  

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Have been away for a few days so only just catching up with this thread but, in the meantime, this is from the BALPA web-site:

A British Airways pilot denied 50% part-time working so that she can look after her one year old daughter has been forced to take the airline to an Employment Tribunal. Jessica Starmer, 26, is being supported by BALPA (the British Airline Pilots’ Association) and will claim that BA’s denial of 50% part-time working amounts to indirect sex discrimination as women pilots are more likely to need to work part-time than their male colleagues. The hearing starts at Watford Employment Tribunal today, Monday 10 January 2005.
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Jessica Starmer said: ‘Having to appear at an Employment Tribunal was the last thing on my mind when I started my dream job as a British Airways pilot nearly four years ago. Although I love every minute flying for BA, I’m also a working mum and need to work part-time to care for Beth, my one year old daughter. Being a professional airline pilot and a mother should in no way be incompatible and it would certainly be a personal tragedy for me and my family if I was forced to leave British Airways.’
_
Till now Beth has been cared for by relatives when Jessica has been flying (though Jessica herself used up her holiday periods to be at home with her).
_
Jim McAuslan, BALPA General Secretary, said: ‘It is totally unacceptable for British Airways or any other airline to put pressure on a pilot to leave a good professional job just because they also happen to have childcare responsibilities.
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‘BALPA is working to interest many more young women in becoming pilots. Although there are still fewer than 500 women pilots flying commercial aircraft in the UK, alongside some 11,000 men, the flight crew workforce, like most other professions, is changing in complexion. As the pilot workforce becomes more diverse, with more women entering the profession, a new range of employment practices is required including part-time working. We are stunned that British Airways hasn’t woken up to this fact._
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‘However, this Tribunal case is not just about helping working mothers who need to work part-time at the beginning or middle of their careers. More and more of our members are also likely to want to work part-time towards the end of their careers as part of flexible retirement arrangements.’
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About Jessica:
_
After graduating from Oxford University in 1999 with a first class honours degree Jessica Starmer started an 18 month BA-sponsored pilot training course. She then joined BA as a pilot in May 2001.
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Before joining BA Jessica flew gliders for 10 years and spent three years as a gliding instructor. She was a medal winner in a national junior gliding competition and was selected for the British Gliding Association’s national women’s team.
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In 2002 Jessica attended a Royal Garden Party for young achievers and met the Queen. In the same year she received BA’s award for excellence for her part in handling an engine failure on a flight from Birmingham to Edinburgh.
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Jessica lives near Wareham, Dorset, with her husband Simon (also a BA pilot) and her daughter Beth.
It is rumoured that on staff that there are at least 5 other women waiting to see the outcome of this case as they too wish to go part time, (also mentioned in the video about the case on THIS page). I think the thing that shocks me most about all of this is that BA have allowed it to go so far. As someone above said, from a publicity and staff morale point of view, it would have been better to come to a quiet deal, which makes me suspect that the Bean-Counters are the sole driving force behind this one. . . .

BH
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 14:22
  #114 (permalink)  
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Carnage Matey summed it up rather well, I thought. Someone's bonus is on the line by the sounds of it. The only worry is that BA seem to be awaiting the outcome of this tribunal to indicate the direction of their future policy. It would be nice if someone climbed out of their silo occasionally and had the balls to make a decision.

Personally, I would be quite surprised if Mrs Starmer lost. BA would then have to offer part-time working to anyone who wanted it and the floodgates would open. IMHO, this is a reflection of their unwillingness to take on BALPA earlier regarding the closure of the FSS scheme and the refusal to recruit new pilots. As a result the rest of us have had to work significantly harder over the past year or so and consequently want to cut back on the hours.

Interesting times ahead yet again.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 16:14
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IMHO, this is a reflection of their unwillingness to take on BALPA earlier regarding the closure of the FSS scheme
What?
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 16:19
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Gee l hope she wins,l'm really hanging on the outcome, you guys can be such hardcases sometimes.

When l came back from Uni, at Oxford, for hols there was always some chap down the local banging on about the fact that he got better A-levels than me, but he wasn't accepted up there. That sort of talk always gets me down.

Then there was the guy down the local aeroclub who was always making sarky comments about the fact that he had 3000 hours airbus and didn't even get invited to an interview day.Gee it can't be that hard. l only had a PPL that mummy and daddy got for me and the airline swept me right up, paid the all the ab-initio and jet conversion stuff all the way through.Whats his issue?

Anyway l really rooting for the girl, l know what its like to bag that rich husband,theres so much social to sort out, who can find time for full time,and lets face it once your in your mid-twenties your pretty much burnt out in this flying lark.

Go Girl!!
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 16:26
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BA would then have to offer part-time working to anyone who wanted it and the floodgates would open
Not necessarily Human Factor. Where I work you are granted Maternity Part Time only in the first years of life of the child. If you wish to keep your part time you have then to apply for a non-maternity part time which is not granted but subject to quota; which means that once you have decided how many part time people you need, you then grant it in order of application seniority. That grants no floodgates open. Here lots of people ask non-maternity 50%, but you only get it after years since the waiting list is quite long. I don't claim this to be the perfect solution, only showing that to every problem there's a solution, and that there are places where it is already working and the company is not going bankrupt.
As for vacation rights etc, our system works on points: you get points for every year seniority to allow you first choice on dates, plus ALL parents get more points for each children (more for handicapped children).
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 16:30
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Without wishing to get involved in the rights and wrongs of this case, I was rather amazed to hear the young lady say on TV that "they couldn't afford childcare". With 2 BA pilots in the family that didn't help her case very much.
Also, from the info in the BALPA quote,perhaps they should live a little closer to LHR than Wareham. Lots of available childcare time taken up by travelling.
We all must make choices and compromises.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 17:27
  #119 (permalink)  
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M. Mouse,

What I mean is that BA haven't recruited any pilots for a considerable amount of time. This was because they didn't want to rock the boat as BALPA had threatened action if anyone was recruited onto anything other than the NAPS final salary pension (but that's another thread).

Anyway, as no-one was recruited the rest of us had to work considerably harder to cover the flying programme. As there was less slack in the system, part-time working became harder to get.

Now we're recruiting again, hopefully some slack will return.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 18:38
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Can't afford childcare ? 2 pilots - they are having a massive laugh.

She's only been with BA since 2001 and she ALREADY has a 75% part time contract - what is her problem?

Some people in BA have had to wait 7 years for any part time contract.

I've waited 4 years already for 75% and still have no indication at all when i may have it.

She should think herself damn lucky she has a job at BA , even on 75%, and by going around stamping her feet demanding even more after 4 years service, is making a complete mockery of the women pilots at BA.

Everyone who wants part time at BA bides their time and awaits their turn - they all want it for various personal reasons.

Just because she suddenly decided to have a family 3 years into her career , and then decide she didn't want to do her 210 mile round trip drive every day (is that a good thing?) 3 weeks out of every 4 is her problem ,not the companies.

It has been mooted that BA has to invest £100k in every pilot they recruit - that is one hell of an investment in a very damaged industry - If she then decides , she only wants to do half the work in this prestigious career BA have given to her, then this is totally the wrong way to go about it ,dragging BA through the press ,tv media and the courts.......

Oh yes, in addition, there is a well known lady on shorthaul fulltime at BA with three youngish children and divorced who copes admirably and never moans once - perhaps there is a lesson to be learn\'t there........

Last edited by Anti-ice; 12th Jan 2005 at 18:48.
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