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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, 19:11
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Can't afford childcare ? 2 pilots - they are having a massive laugh.
The problem is that money can't buy child care at 3am.

In some parts of the country it's next to impossible to find child care during daylight hours let alone at night.

Perhaps if BA provided child care facilities this case wouldn't be necessary.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 19:22
  #122 (permalink)  
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What, for 3 days?
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 19:28
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If money can't buy childcare at 3 am on a 75% roster, how will a 50% help. If she cant afford a nanny, or hasn't got the space in her house, I think all she will be doing is reducing her problem to 50% of the time, unless she is hoping to work outside of bidline!!
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 20:11
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Interesting to read from Big Hilly's cut & paste form the BALPA website that she is claiming on the grounds of indirect sex discrimination because women/mothers are more likely to apply for part-time contracts than men/fathers. Clicking on the link in the same post, one reads that Jessica also blames the Bidline rostering system.

Sorry if I'm being thick, but wasn't Bidline a rostering deal struck between BA (& its predecessors BOAC & BEA) & BALPA some years ago? Is BALPA is in danger of shooting itself in the foot by supporting her case?

Out of pure curiosity, I've put Wareham in Dorset to both LHR & BHX into The RAC's route planner; to LHR the distance is 105 miles & to BHX 170. Please note, these are the one way distances - for a short-haul pilot.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 20:33
  #125 (permalink)  
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She knew the T&C

I have read all the posts, and can to some little degree see where she wants her cake and eat it - and indeed when she wants to eat it.

This lady pilot was damn lucky to get into BA and she knew full well the Terms and Conditions of the employment, and what the fall-out would be having a baby. It's a choice she made.

The employer should NOT have to bend over backwards and up it's own fuselage to pander for these natural eventualities.

As Anti-Ice states (and others) she is having a laugh with her sob story.

She flies now and then and is lucky enough to be operating a part-time roster. Others have to be content to wait 7 years to play that card. That's discrimination.

Along with her choice of marrying a pilot, and of living so very far away from her base, it cannot be the employers fault if HER choices screw her chosen career.

Some pilots with less money in the family kitty have to live closer to accomodate the silly things in life called "standby".

If she was an RAF pilot she would probably be saying, "you can't post me to a war zone, I have a baby to look after".

If you can't stand the heat of the kitchen, get out.

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Old 12th Jan 2005, 21:10
  #126 (permalink)  
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So said Pilot would be trundling into work at 0530 having driven for 2 hrs with baby in the back of the car. Get real. 0300 in the morning equals a Nanny, plenty of them around from parts East. Contact Mr Blunkett for a quick work permit.
Whilst i have a little bit of sympathy on reflection of comments made i cannot help think that the no money plea and the PR is not helping at all.
On the matter of a BA award for excellence for handling an engine failure in 20002 enroute Birmingham to Frankfurt, the Mrs was the purser on the flight and got nothing for saving all those passengers lives!!!!!
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 21:44
  #127 (permalink)  
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Wrong flight Mr Angry, the flight in question was from Birmingham up to Scotland, hence the diversion to Manchester. AFAIK there was no engine failure on a BA Airbus from Birmingham to Frankfurt ever.
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Old 12th Jan 2005, 22:09
  #128 (permalink)  
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The military are still trying to sort this one out!

Generally, it is still expected that the majority of non- Service partners will follow the Service partner - to the detriment of the non-Service partner's career / family contact. Modern day "flag followers". My wife still smoulders over this one! Genuine quote: If you were meant to have a wife we would have issued you with one!" Unquote. Neanderthal I know.

Families that have both partners in the Service do not have the easiest of times - and I suspect - I don't know - that one will make a career sacrifice if the family relationship is to work.

The military do send new mothers to war - and if the other parent is "rostered" to go too then the "wheels" may try to help by staggering each parent's posting - but there is no guarentee when the guns start shooting. There is invariably a grandparent etc who is prepared to help out.

I was separated from my pregnant wife and three year old kid for 8 months courtesy of "Queen & Country". 18 months after a memorable Xmas / New Year / Easter on Gulf War I.

I knew the score - wifey did not initially.

Carrying the workload for others is a real pain - but sometimes I think "there but for the Grace of God go I".

I think that squaring the Israeli Palestinian issue over a few bevvies would be easier!
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 00:02
  #129 (permalink)  
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Ahh, she joined in 1999, wasn't that the time when Big Airlines went through the transition from recruiting hard working frozen cpl's etc from the flying schools and employed some politically correct agency to interview one leggedblahblahblah with no flying experience ??
Well, they reap what they sow !

On a more serious note, if she wins, and I have no doubt that she will, life could be better for all.

Last edited by longstay; 13th Jan 2005 at 00:15.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 01:14
  #130 (permalink)  
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I notice BALPA's (understandably one-sided) version of the dispute makes no mention of BA changing the rules after she joined. I wonder if that's because whoever wrote the piece forgot what some might regard as her best argument or because they realise it's not as strong a point as some have suggested here.
If the rules haven't changed, then she either knew or should have known what they were when she joined. If she didn't bother to check the T's and C's to which she was agreeing, the problem is of her own making.

It seems from the two BBC reports linked above that she not only wants to work 50% but also expects BA to adjust its rostering procedures so she and her husband aren't required to work at the same time.
Was this obviously intelligent woman really unaware when she embarked on her chosen career that airline pilots have to work irregular shift patterns?
Or that child-care would be a problem if she married someone who was also required to work irregular shift patterns?
Or, when she joined BA, that there is a bid system based on seniority?

Interesting that both she and the BALPA spokesman claim BA is so unreasonable and is effectively trying to "force" her out. If I've understood it correctly, she's had 18 months pilot training paid for by BA (£100k?), maternity leave within two years of starting work and, in her third year, an offer of a compromise by which she would be required to work only 75%. After all that, she claims BA's practices exclude women pilots and reinforce the traditional male dominance in its workforce.

I'm not in a position to express an opinion upon the staff morale aspect, but I certainly don't agree with the suggestion that the publicity is damaging to BA. I suspect many people will think she wants rather too much and BA is right not to give in to her demands.

Asssuming she didn't join BA on the basis she'd have the right to work only 50% as soon as she wanted and whenever she wanted, and based only upon what I've read here and in the press reports, I don't at the moment see any merit in her claim of discrimination. However, I'm not a specialist in employment law (which seems very odd in many respects), and the interpretation of 'discrimination' in alleged sex discrimination cases is often so bizarre, that I wouldn't be amazed if she succeeded in having her cake and eating it.
Opinion is strongly divided even in this industry-related forum. If she wins, I suspect public opinion will be similarly divided between those who think BA should have given in to her demands and those who think the law's an ass.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 04:55
  #131 (permalink)  
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What this lady has said "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." sums it up to me.

It's quite obvious to most people that the lifestyle of frequent nightstops, irregular hours etc etc would be quite incompatible with being a mother, whatever the profession. Many very capable ladies have given up their career to be a mother, or given up on the idea of motherhood to concentrate on their career. Not many children want their mother to be away a lot, anyway - is she not thinking about her child, and that the child would normally only see one parent at the time and not have contact with both at the same time, despite having both? Isn't that sad for the child?

This case could do a lot of harm to the prospect of woman pilots. I would not be surprised if the airlines became more reluctant to hire females - if it is financially disadvantageous to hire a woman, then I don't blame them for not wanting to hire them.

It seems to me that she is obviously not fighting for the advancement of female pilots - rather, she is simply fighting for her own agenda.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 08:10
  #132 (permalink)  
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Aren't we all fighting for our own agenda?
I have to agree that the fact that she and her husband got a baby so soon after her training gives me personaly the opinion that it is unfair practise. BA could give her the 50% but could hold her liable for part of the training?

I think that as partners they could offer to both do a 75% contract and the fullfilment of him would be 100% and her 50%.

Any way; in the Netherlands with Transavia there is a couple that has this as well; a couple (both Captains) who have children(don't know if it is one or more) He fly's 100% and she 50%; she dous only fly Europe. So it's not impossible and also not "not-done"

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Old 13th Jan 2005, 08:17
  #133 (permalink)  
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How can it be sex discrimination, when she is getting the same as is offered to all pilots...if she wins,all the male pilots should sue for the same thing...
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 09:06
  #134 (permalink)  
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Just a selection of the 'anti' comments:

"baby time should be factored into pre flight planning."

"the rest of us are getting a little p*ssed off with continually having to take up the slack as one or other of these guys has a day off for doctor/dentist/little johnny's ill."

"She should perhaps look towards getting a less demanding job."

"I'm shocked and appalled by this lady's behaviour"

"thoughts - don't get pregnant then."

"BA mainline is too nice to its crews sometimes"

"BA management will make her life hell if she should wish to continue to work with BA"

"Having a child isn't an illness or a disability, it's a lifestyle choice"

"She got pregnant anyway and now expect the company to adapt to her new life with the kid." Well that is little unrealistic, don't you think so.

"If she loved her career so much, she should not have had a child. "

"She is no champion for anything other than her own agenda."

After September 11th 2001 I took voluntary redundancy in order to look after my wife during a family crisis. We now have two young kids and have decided not to return to flying. Any airline job I look at trashes my family life. I find the real value in having children is actually spending time with them. They are much more interesting than adults - I have nightmares about being stuck on a slip with airline crew gossiping and talking shop etc. Downsizing and changing direction is problematic. We are both poorer and happier.

Sitting on the sidelines of the great UK PLC machine I observe the following:

The macro economic situation is driving a long working hours culture in Britain. The culture requires that you work hard, earn lots of money, pay for goods and services to make up for lost time and then give the rest to Gordon Brown. Where I live Mums put their kids in nurseries at 2 1/2 years and return to work or employ nannies from an earlier age. When Mums work they get home tired and stressed and spend little time with their kids. Familles lose out in this stressful situation whilst big business and the tax man wins. The kids are bored.

The whole Big Brother Nanny State culture is moving towards 'eight 'til six' working days in Primary Schools. Blair is planning over 2500 state run nurseries for pre school children. The State is gaining control over every aspect of our lives.

Here is a young Mum who wants to reduce her working hours to care for her child herself. Well, good on her I say. Probably the biggest problem in our society is the breakdown in the family which gives rise to all the other issues. It is doubly hard for couples working shifts never mind the random nature of an airline roster. This couple are stronger and smarter than most

Really, what is the problem with flying half a line? There probably won't be that many takers in the industry. It is as easy to write a two week roster as a three week roster. The currency issue is a complete red herring. Forty hours a month is plenty for currency on anything other than ultra long haul. If BA can get their head round this issue then the young lady might stay for a full career and they would surely recoup their investment. More importantly it would be better for the family concerned.

I don't but the 'politically correct' society. Some of the rubbish I hear daily makes my socks rot. Family values are priceless and worth far more to society than company profits or government policy.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 09:39
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I doubt if anyone would disagree that "probably the biggest problem in our society is the breakdown in the family which gives rise to all the other issues" nor that "it is doubly hard for couples working shifts never mind the random nature of an airline roster."

So what do you say to those people who've said that if a couple have children then, in the interests of the children/family, at least one of them (whichever they decide) should do a job which doesn't involve shifts, irregular hours, frequent nightstops etc?

Is there a reasonable argument that being a parent involves some sacrifice as well as great joy, so at least one (whichever they decide) should put children/family first even if that means not being able to do the job he/she would like to do if they didn't have children?

NB: Not expressing an opinion, just finding the different views very interesting.

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Old 13th Jan 2005, 10:19
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Perhaps cwatters a couple of pages back has a good business idea? Although 24x7 nurseries are definitely not the norm (if indeed any exist) creating one close to LHR could be a lucrative idea. With the volume of shift workers there must be a market for kids to nightstop there from time to time. The employers could subsidise it a bit, as the fees would need to be higher than normal as staff would need paying more to do night shifts, but using this case as an example it would save them money as the 75% roster would no longer be a problem. Perhaps I should go and see my bank manager!

Mr Angry - the supply of live-in nannys in Purley may well not be a problem, but you will find that as soon as you get away from big cities to places such as Dorset (to pick a place not entirely at random) that changes. When our son was born 5 years ago, our original plan was that I would work at home, but we would employ a nanny during the day to entertain him whilst I worked. However as the date for my wife returning to work got ever closer it became obvious that despite our best efforts there was no one available where we lived then (a smallish town in Cheshire). I don't know if you have children, but most parents don't just put a card in a newsagents window and take the first person to knock on the door, especially in this day and age. They want at least some degree of comfort that the hard choice they are making to put their kid into someone elses care for significant periods of time is going to be made a little easier by having some trust that the person selected will do a good job.

Ultimately this argument is always going to have 2 diametrically opposed sides - either women with kids have every right to work, but need help to achieve it; or women with kids should stay at home to look after them, and probably a majority of posters here are not going to change their views on that. However perhaps it isn't that simple - given the number of working mothers these days, and with ever increasing numbers of them in senior roles, not just on the Tesco checkouts, if they all left to go back to do full time child care then the country's economy would collapse.

I suppose ultimately that could help with the argument here, as several airlines would also collapse as the number of people travelling shrank substantially, which would return these women pilots home, trouble is the men would be out of work too!

Once the employment tribunal is complete, a transcript would be a fascinating read, because as other posters have said there has to be more to this story than is in the public domain, otherwise I can't see it would have got this far.

A final thought - if this case makes airlines reluctant to employ women pilots, that will shrink the pool of available bodies available in the job market (which based on this board seems to be improving at present). Shrinkage of pool equals increased cost of employment as either more money has to be spent in attracting potential employees (greater salary, more perks, less bonds for example) and current employees feel less vulnerable, and so more able to press for higher wage increases. Given the proportion of male to female pilots at most airlines I know which sounds more expensive in the long run, and it ain't the women!
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 10:51
  #137 (permalink)  
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Is there a reasonable argument that being a parent involves some sacrifice as well as great joy, so at least one (whichever they decide) should put children/family first even if that means not being able to do the job he/she would like to do if they didn't have children?
It is reasonable as long as it is not too much of a sacrifice. No parent should be a frustrated parent. We choose our careers before choosing to be parents, and this just because human beings go through different stages of maturity in their lives, and usually the call to a profession comes before the one to start a family. Usually you start to look around and choose to have a family once you have settled professionally. So why a professional, be it male or female, pilot or surgeon, should give up the profession he/she worked hard for years for, when just a reasonable amount of adjusting from the employer would be enough? (without referring specifically to the case of this BA lady)
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 11:14
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>>So what do you say to those people who've said that if a couple have children then, in the interests of the children/family, at least one of them (whichever they decide) should do a job which doesn't involve shifts, irregular hours, frequent nightstops etc?<<

There is a simple practical problem.

Speaking from experience it is actually very difficult to change direction from airline pilot to another occupation. Once you have been in the industry for a few years you get 'kite marked' by other walks of life as a pilot. Non flying '9 to 5' jobs for pilots are few and far between and certainly not availible in this couples country location. You are over qualified for the low paid jobs and unsuitably qualified and experienced for middle ranking professional jobs. It is a very tight labour market and employers look for those most closely fitting their requirements. Additionally people look at you askance if you are a pilot looking for other work. Hard fact.

In order to change direction you need to spend some years re-training or run your own business. Both these would be incompatible with this couples desire for more with the child.

We are still sorting this problem for ourselves by the way and have ruled out a return to airline flying.

Bottom line is it hard, but not impossible, to get a non aviation / non flying job having been a pilot. I can understand why they are fighting so hard for their position and wish them luck.

Last edited by Spartacan; 13th Jan 2005 at 11:35.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 13:37
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Having graduated from Oxford University in 1999 with a first class honours degree, Jessica Starmer is well qualified to take up another lucrative career. Politics springs to mind if she only wants to work part time.
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Old 13th Jan 2005, 15:17
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This may sound unsympathetic (and not terribly 'politically correct'!), but personally speaking, I think the 75% deal she's getting at the moment sounds pretty good. Presumably she wasn't forced into either a career in flying OR having a baby, and so the situation she finds herself in is entirely of her own making.

I have children (that I look after alone) and am but a mere PPL - but would have LOVED to have gained an ATPL in my 20's - and if I'd had the chance, doubt very much whether I would have then decided to start a familiy only a couple of years later. But if I had, then it would have been my choice - and so my 'problem' to deal with.

My comments may be a bit unpopular with some, but like the vast majority of working mothers, I don't expect the rules to be bent or adapted just to suit me - particularly if I have chosen to be in the situation I'm in!

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