Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner) If you're not a professional pilot but want to discuss issues about the job, this is the best place to loiter. You won't be moved on by 'security' and there'll be plenty of experts to answer any questions.


Old 10th Jan 2003, 17:55
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As a long-term but increasingly frustrated BALPA member I would
be interested in any opinions in respect of the IPA as a viable
alternative bearing in mind important issues such as legal insurance etc.

I do have the relevant paperwork and application forms from the
IPA but views from current or indeed former members would be
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Old 18th Jan 2003, 17:47
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I have been a member of the IPA for quite a few years now, and also joined the IPF when it was up and running. I can't compare it to BALPA as I have never been a member, but the help available from the IPF to you (legal representation etc, should you ever need it) should have you covered. (I wonder how all those CityFlyer chaps felt represented by BALPA when they 'merged' into BA).
Plus, the IPA/IPF in nowhere as expensive.
I have not needed them in anger, but every time I did phone them up I received quick and professional help, very friendly.
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Old 19th Jan 2003, 23:28
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As a long-term but increasingly frustrated BALPA member
What is it that you are frustrated about ?
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Old 22nd Jan 2003, 17:56
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What are you frustrated about?

Well, how about the news that pilots are up in arms about changes to duty time limitations (Mondays' headlines), but an ominous lack of anything from BALPA. No outline of the proposed regulations, no outline of proposed action which was muted by the media (not that I believe much that I read in The Sun).

How about when the company promised a mid-term pay review last year (we didn't get an annual review) but then conveniently forgot about it until about a couple of weeks ago.

How about a web-site that never works, and the farce of people who stand for election to become chairman, and promise to resign as soon as they are elected.

All that for 1% or more of your salary!
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Old 26th Jan 2003, 01:09
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I was a member of both IPA & BALPA when the airline I was working for went bust. IPA help was immediate & personal, balpa less interested.
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Old 26th Jan 2003, 23:41
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beamer - I'm an ex-current - frustrated - former member!

This stems back a bit , but I won't go in to that now (oh go on then....FAR too much LARGE per month for what was on offer and,though not a reason for leaving,as has already been mentioned,a website that 'never' bloody works!!

Anyway,like beamer, I too would be interested in what the IPA / IPF has to offer.

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Old 27th Jan 2003, 17:50
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For God's sake, guys, how often does it have to be said?

BALPA is a Union, a Professional Association, a legally convened body. The IPA, whatever its attributes is little more than a glorified employment agency. It has no ability whatever to intercede in contractural disputes bar their individual legal support, which I believe is quite good.

However, they are NOT a union, and joining the IPA instead of BALPA is a concious decision to weaken the power (such as it may be) of the ONLY sensible union (as opposed to the TGWU etc) you have available to you as aircrew.

The only pilot's body that the industry any recognition of is BALPA, so if you value your voice and wish it to be heard and considered there is no other organisation worth joining. OK, if you are one of those who regard BALPA as useless then join the boy scouts if that suits you, but it will be a waste of time and a poke in the eye to your colleagues who are keen to actually make a difference. So why do that?

BALPA, as with any union, is not a subscription to some magician who will wave his wand at your office and cow the accountants into submission; it is your own colleagues, voted by yourselves, who choose to spend their own time fighting for your rights. Themselves. Sure, they'll get advice from BALPA and hands on help when they really need it, and on occasion they'll get professional negotiators to help them too, but they will have to do their own homework first, themselves (yourselves).

Even so, they cannot ever impose results against an obstructive management if those results are not enforceable in law, and if what you want is not legally enforceable then in this day and age you will hae your work cut out to achieve it. Hopefully your reps will be skilled enough to persuade, but theycannot force. If it aint legally enforceable its a bit rich to blame BALPA for not enforceing it, cos it probably wasn't in their power in the firstplace.

The IPA is simply not in that business. yes, they'll give you a job placemant service and good individual legal cover, but precious little else. Use them, sure, but BALPA is your priority lifeline, there simply is no other.
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Old 27th Jan 2003, 20:43
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You are quite right in what you say, the IPA is not a union, and never was intended to be. It provides legal cover, an excellent employment service and other benefits that would be expected of a Pilot's association. Since the IPA was formed, many BALPA menbers have benefited as the "competition" in these fields from the IPA have obliged BALPA to improve the level of service provided in these areas to its members.

Disquiet as to the union services offered by BALPA have caused the IPA to form a separate organisation, the IPF, which has been structured in accordance with the requirements of a trade union. They have, to my knowledge, yet to have a "showdown" with an employer on behalf of their menbers. Presumably, so far none has been necessary, but one of the reasons for forming the IPF was that a number of employers voiced concerns that there was no "union" organisation with whom they could negociate - apparently negociations with BALPA were not practicable for some reason.

I notice that in another post above, BALPA's negociations with "the company" is referred to. Does this mean that, despite their vehement denial, "BALPA" really still stands for "British Airways Line Pilots Association"?
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 09:50
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I was a member of both BALPA and the IPA at one point. I dropped my IPA membership as I felt they rather duplicated each other, and decided that as my company recogises BALPA it wa for me to play the white man, and subscribe to the body that represents my interests to the company, or at least , is supposed to.

The IPA provided a much better employment service, and much better advice than BALPA ever has. Any time I had a query for the IPA it was dealt with if not there and then, by a return phone call. I have never experienced any such level of service from BALPA. It is always so complicated to do things such as to update data base entries with the employment service, or to get any decent information as to how I might develop my career, or about who pays how much and what their terms and conditions are like etc.

I am currently reviewing whether I will change my alegience. If I leave BALPA I will still benefit from any change in T&Cs negotiated with the employers, without the 1% salary penalty that many of my collegues at work do not incur.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 11:30
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I have been in touch with IPA, and even as a non-member, I feel I've been treated courteously. I have asked BALPA some questions, and they were nothing as helpful.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 11:36
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I must update P. Pilcher here:

"They have, to my knowledge, yet to have a "showdown" with an employer on behalf of their members."

The negotiators of the IPF have had a significant number of successful defences in industrial cases against companies for their members.

What Ag BIs says is, of course, correct, since BALPA have recognition in most companies by virtue of the membership percentage they have.

I personally have nothing but praise for the IPA/IPF and welcome a challenge to the 'encumbent'. Competition can be beneficial! Dual membership does not represent a significant extra expenditure and like a medical 'second opinion' can be useful.

I repeat - The IPF (not the IPA) CAN AND HAVE defended industrial cases on behalf of their members.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 13:40
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What is the IPF BOAC? I've only heard of the IPA
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 14:22
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It is a flight crew 'union' formed from the IPA. Check out the IPF at

PS If you join - give old BOAC a mention please (membership number 2490) as then he gets a free month's membership
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 14:57
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A former colleague of mine was recently made redundant from a regional airline. The very next day the IPF provided him with an information pack regarding his legal rights, who was recruiting, a fact sheet about his entitlements. They provided a free solicitor's consultation. He hadn't even contacted them, they were totally on the ball with his situation. BALPA did absolutley nothing because they said that his former employer did not recognise BALPA.

He cancelled his BALPA membership & is now fully under the wing of the IPF. If you aren't employed by an airline which recognises BALPA then you are wasting your money by giving your union fees to them.

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Old 30th Jan 2003, 10:20
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One thing to be learnt from this thread, is that all UK Pilots owe it to themselves to be a member of either Balpa or IPA.
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Old 30th Jan 2003, 11:15
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Should I stay with BALPA as an independant helicopter pilot when the only time I hear from them is the annual email to find out my salary so they can charge me the right amount :-)

BALPA. British Airways Lunch Provision Association.;-);-)

n.b I have cancelled my membership to BALPA. Now we'll see how long it takes them to acknowledge the fact.
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Old 30th Jan 2003, 11:29
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My first airline was non BALPA, but a few pilots were members. While the airline was in administration, but before it went into receivership, the pilots were all made redundant with no notice or pay in lieu. BALPA's advice? Roll over and let them tickle your tummy. A couple of pilots used the legal advice available with their house insurance to seek a second opinion. As a direct result of their efforts the law was retrospectively changed 5 years later, and the pilots were paid in lieu of notice. Surely this would have been a perfect test case for BALPA to have taken up in the first place. Unfortunately we were just a small regional airline and they didn't bother.

Notwithstanding the above I later joined BALPA for the security of membership. As a First Officer the fee (in not %) seemed a reasonable sum of money. However, later on as a Captain and then training Captain, the fee (again in not %) seemed exhorbitant. So I wrote to BALPA to resign.

The reply from BALPA was staggering in its arrogance. My application to resign would be considered at the next commitee meeting! Hello, I've already gone and my direct debit is cancelled, you can discuss it untill you're blue in the face, but I ain't coming back.

I would like to think that BALPA has learn't a few lessons since then and is more inclusive, but I'm quite comfortable on the outside and have no plans to return.

I have not tried the IPA/IPF, but would do so before I went back to BALPA.
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Old 30th Jan 2003, 11:58
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Over a year ago I was working for a Private company as the sole company pilot but when I was offered to join very large IT operator, my boss decided to act against me and played oen or two dirty tricks.
Not knowing what to do and after I had lost the opportunity to join this career airline (the offer was withdrawn), I turned to BALPA and their legal department.
Indeed on top of having managed to make me lose my new position, the company was now asking for a full refund of the outstanding bond.
Not a partial refund (pro-rata) but the entire amount and equivalent to about 7500.
BALPA took charge of the dossier and kept me informed of the proceedings by email as I had to get a job quickly, anywhere, which lead me to a remote part of the world.

Well since then, I have had not to pay a penny toward that bond (breach of contract from the employer) and nothing toward legal fees.
So if someone ask me what my 1% are for and what BALPA has evr done to me, I have something to talk about and can only be grateful they were here for me, a lowly GA pilot in a non unionised company.

Saying that, I had the pleasure to deal with Trevor Newton who used to run the LGW job centre for pilots and who is now working for the IPA. He certainly was an asset for those like me who were trying to break in the industry and I am sure he s able to be even more efficient within the IPA.

I can't compare BALPA and the IPA as I am a member of only one (I don't believe in split personality) but I can recognise the value of one and I don't think the IPA or anyone else could have done a better job in sorting my situation out.

Also I am with Lou Scannon on that one.
Whether it is the IPA or BALPA we are talking about, Unions are by definition, made of people getting their strenghts together to achieve a common goal. If the member don't take an active part (paying a membership is the beginning), then I can't see why the office staffs down in New Road, should.

In conclusion, whichever one we should chose to join remains an individual's choice but a balanced assessment and potential benefits should be looked at closely. We all have different views, opinions, background and life experiences so this should affect our choices too and I for one, will not try to convince anybody to join BALPA. I made my choice that's all.

Edited because I have just read Bus14's post and thought that I should add that I am still paying a rather small fee, so I take his comment about a Captain's wages on board.

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