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UK Union for Pilots

Old 6th Dec 2014, 11:27
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Funny but all the same old stuff being dragged up again.

Our problem has always been that most of us love what we do, except js who shouldn't really be in the business anyway.
Yes, we love it, we're good at it and we would, initially I admit, do it for nothing.

Then reality kicks in and, like the rest of humanity, we have to earn a crust to keep our families. Responsibilities cost and, added to that, the extra cost of being away from our familiies, both emotionally and financially.

I mustn't forget either, in this world of sunshine and elation, that nowadays the provision of aircraft that are more up to the job, fewer major failures and world class maintenance in UK make the job more easy, less stressful and safer than it has ever been.

So we end up being well paid (for the moment) with less responsibilities than a couple of decades ago and the company attitudes that "anyone can do it" so we could pay 'em less. Maybe Pilot's Assistants, instead of FOs, should be reintroduced…………...

Funny that - once upon a time we needed a captain, copilot, flight engineer, navigator and radio operator. Now it's two guys and a couple of autopilots (oh, and lots more fuel if you need it !)
Where else can we cut the corners before someone realises exactly what is required of us when it all turns to worms ? Yes, RHS, another hull loss would certainly sharpen the mind.

And the reasons were, m'lud………… !
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 11:45
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So we end up being well paid (for the moment) with less responsibilities than a couple of decades ago
I think I know what you're getting at, but I'm not sure that statement is at all true, I suspect the commander's responsibilities under the ANO haven't changed that much over the years/decades. One thing's for certain - as sure as night follows day that if you bend metal ( or worse) the law will come looking for answer from the commander, not the fancy automation or the CEO/CFO.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 12:11
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I wish I was well paid!

I wonder what the actual pay distribution is amongst qualified pilots in the UK, just to compare against the articles in the newspapers.

Right now I'm on the cusp of leaving commercial aviation to go back to my previous career because I just can't afford to pay the mortgage, training debt and living costs on the salaries I can get.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 12:12
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As John Smith correctly says, the general reduction to pilot T & Cs is an overdue correction. He probably won't win any popularity contests on here for saying it but that does not make him wrong.

For several decades pilots in legacy carriers were able to draw large salaries for flying 600 hours a year and then retire at 55 on £60k+ a year and good luck to them. But that lucky situation was neither 'deserved' nor sustainable if flying for the masses was to become affordable.

As has been pointed out, there is no shortage of reasonably co-ordinated people who are able to self-finance an 18 month course in order to have what appears to be an easy and 'glamorous' career. There are rather fewer who have the academic ability or commitment to undertake a highly-selective medical or law degree.

The argument about responsibility vs reward tends to be rather overstated. I am fairly happy to travel on a bus or drive next to a 50 tonne truck even though the driver may be on £10 an hour. Occasionally there is a lapse or negligence and passengers get damaged but no one seems to suggest that paying the offending driver more would have averted the tragedy.

Unlike John Smith, I still enjoy aspects of the job and have managed to find employment which is minimally detrimental to my health, sanity or family life. I recognise the job for what it is - a generally routine and prescriptive set of tasks with a good view and not a constant and heroic battle against the elements which only the very gifted are able to undertake. More importantly, I understand that my terms and conditions are not determined by any perception of what a pilot 'deserves' but by the ability of me and my colleagues to act in unison to reject any downward trend. Unfortunately, a significant number either fail to grasp that notion, are already resigned their fate or simply don't give a toss about it.

It really is about supply and demand. There are still high paying jobs out there but the pay is not necessarily related to the difficulty of the job but rather to the reluctance of first world pilots to relocate to Asia or the Middle East. If we were all willing to work and live in those environments, the pay would decrease accordingly.

In short, it's no good whining about the loss of the good old days - that game is up. The choices now are to fight to protect what you have or take a chance that you and your family can tolerate working somewhere you wouldn't necessarily want to be. Or you could just do something else.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 12:43
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I very much like my airline job but would recomend that anyone leaving school or university steer well clear of the industry.

The big flying schools ( and we all know who they are ) grabbed the opportunity of helping steer the EASA regulation bandwagon towards approved schools that offer courses that fit the airlines perfectly simply because they get an employee who is up to his eyeballs in debt and has to work under any conditions offered to service that debt. Of course by the time reality has struck the poor young hopefuls the school has long ago cashed the cheque. In short UK flying training is a corupt Union between the big schools and the airlines to enable the airlines to get staff at the lowest price who are going to be so far in hoc that they are effectively prisoners to the airline.

Of course this squeezes out any one who wants to try get into the industry using a part time flying course from a small flying school.

At one time you could get into the industry using by getting together 700 hours of flying and passing the exams, this got you an fATPL and you found yourself a job. The airline then did your type rating and you got bonded for two years so the airline could recover the cost of training you.

The big schools identified the opportunity and steered the then Under construction EASA and ( still ) inept to install a set of regulations that supported their business plan, extinguished the opposition and made slaves of their students but assured the airlines would support the plan by sighting quality of trainning issues.
Just for the record I have seen very little difference in the standard of flying by the time they reach an airliner but if I was to be asked who was the most rounded aviator and who had the best understanding of the whole business picture the guys who did not attend a big school or do an approved course win each time.

The bottom line is if you are bright enough to fly an airliner go and train for another job, one that will earn you enough money............. if you still want to fly go and do it for fun.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 13:01
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The industry needs to scrabble its way back up to drag the lower echelon operators up to where the Thomsons the Thomas Cooks are, and until recently the Monarchs of this world were
Don't know anything about Thomas Cook. But anyone who saw the recent Ts&Cs on offer from Thomson knows you're talking rubbish.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 14:42
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Good point SK.

So the million dollar question is....

So why would a company of the stature of Thomsons start making derisory ts and c offers.

Is it because they have their peoples best interests at heart?

Or is it that they have to act this way to survive otherwise they will be the next decent operator to be reduced to loco status or even put out of service by not been able to compete with the locos? Ala Monarch.

I stand corrected on the Thomsons point, should your information be accurate -I accept I was talking rubbish, thanks for the heads up. That is actually more bad news that I wasnt aware of. With the recent Monarch changetoo, it does actually reinforce the point I was trying to make.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 16:01
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OK, we don't seem to be able to halt the slide in T&Cs due to the combination of UK/EU industrial law and the willingness of too many people to believe the spin the FTOs put out...

So back to the OP's question...

I have come from/still work in an industry which has a very strong union basis and has the workforce interests still at heart for the majority of the time.

This does not seem apparent in the aviation industry... Can anybody shed some light on this?

Personally I've found my union very good at dealing any individual issues I've had, and generally OK at a company level (though many disagree). Where I do feel they really do fall down is at a strategic, national level where they don't appear to have any clout. One example being the way aircrew are still handled when going through security ex the UK, compared with the treatment in the likes of the States.

If I recall things correctly following one of the security scares a while back the UK Musician's Union got a sweetheart deal for it's members on hand baggage ( extra allowance, "tools of the trade") whereas everybody else, including crew was being messed around left right and centre TFN and beyond.....and it's still liquids, gels, iPads, and laptops out........
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 16:51
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Wiggy

You are so correct its high time all of us at Gatwick downed tools for a day to stop the excesses of the little hitlers who are crusing around the ramp imposing fines on people for not having Hi vis vests done up at the front ....... then when you secure the thing in the approved manor they fine you 50 quid for having your ID obscured.

perhaps shutting the place down for a day would remind the managment just who's efforts earn the money.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 19:51
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john_smith said:
Aviation exists in its own little bubble. What we have to realise is that we are still grossly overpaid for what we do. Salaries are being adjusted to reflect that.
"Grossly overpaid for what we do"?

On a day to day basis, it's difficult to disagree.

I once heard an older pilot explaining his job to a passenger. He said:

"I don't get paid for what I do. I get paid for what I CAN do."

Passengers think these machines run on rails. It's in nobody's interest to enlighten them. Monkies can indeed stick the autopilot in, but that's not the only thing between a landing and a disaster!

Argue the poor pay on the basis of supply and demand, or even on Margaret Thatcher's Union reforms. But don't be so ignorant to suggest this job is always a breeze! It's not. Unlike the medical profession, we have simply had to develop meticulous processes in an attempt to reduce the risks, because when a mistake happens, we can kill very many, not just one!

I'm not for a moment suggesting we're all Chesley Sullenberger, but he did have a very interesting thing to say after the Miracle of the Hudson. It was something like this:

"Throughout my flying career, I've been making small deposits in the bank of experience. Today I was required to make a very large withdrawal!"

Ask those passengers whether they think pilots should be paid decent money. Luckily for them, you'll be able to hear their answer!

Last edited by 4468; 6th Dec 2014 at 20:49.
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Old 6th Dec 2014, 22:43
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I also agree with all of the points about OAA/CTC pilot factories creating a massive oversupply. IMHO BALPA needs to start taking more of a front role on these issues, in addition to their work on Safety and other political lobbying.
Which begs the question (yet again): Given the state of UK Industrial Relations Legislation how do they do that?
They could start of by playing the "it's a monopoly" card. I've always had an issue with the "It's their train set" argument. Ethics must surely come into it. The big schools and airlines have colluded to increase training costs and create an indebted slave pilot population without any regard for those who want to avoid high cost and debt. Sustainability, i.e. better chances of employment for those who have been through the very system, instead of those who are going through the system (as we see today) should be a key factor in addressing this insanity.

Furthermore, actually doing something about it may not be the point. Simply raising the concern and publishing it on the damn campaign page in order to get publicity on the issue might help contain the problem! But look at the kinds of people who are on the company councils. A sizeable number have links and/or dealings with the big schools. It would really be a case of pissing in ones own tea cup.

Last edited by Superpilot; 7th Dec 2014 at 10:08. Reason: Misunderstanding of what a cartel was
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 08:15
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SP

You're not wrong, but the problem is the public only "care" about cartels if it's costing them money...you'll always get protests over supermarkets and/or the fuel companies acting as such. OTOH BALPA can scream about FTOs and cartels from the roof tops but I doubt the public will give a fig about what they will perceive as some "rich" kids volunteering to pay over the odds for a "pilots's licence".

But look at the kinds of people who are on the company councils. A sizable number have links and/or dealings with the big schools
It's not just at the top of BALPA, it seems one or two of the more recent FTO alumni who are also BALPA members have been helping out on the FTO's stand at some of the "pilot shows/fairs" in return for expenses (only - fuel and food)........it looks like some of the newbies have become conditioned to helping line the pockets of those at the top, though I suppose at least in this case they're actually getting some money from the FTO...

Last edited by wiggy; 7th Dec 2014 at 08:30.
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 10:58
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I am a supporter of Unions however , as Balpa will tell you they're not a Union they're an association , a very expensive one ...

They have let this industry down for decades & continue to do so taking credit for the work of real Unions like Unite with the holiday pay etc.

Balpa do next to nothing for the pilot workforce ensuring individual crew councils are populated with pseudo managers looking after terms & conditions to suit themselves leaving the general workforce in the dark as they negotiate elusive lifestyle options whilst gorging on expense bought working lunches & claiming lots of expenses , spending many office days doing FA apart from telling everyone what a burden it is to be a rep !
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 13:03
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taking credit for the work of real Unions like Unite with the holiday pay etc.
Putting it politely: Are you sure you've got that the right way round???

BA due back in court over pilots' holiday pay | Reuters

and ( yes, I know it's wiki but it's as good a link as any on the case.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British...plc_v_Williams
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 14:54
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It's amazing the stupidity displayed in a few arguments on here.

First, John's assertion that someone's motivation in why to be a pilot is irrelevant. Wrong - there is a certain demographic from one country with a bad CRM reputation that largely do it because in their home country, being a pilot is still very prestigious. In other words, they do it out of arrogance. A pilot that is motivated by love for flying is likely to learn better, fly better and try harder because they want to be the best they can, rather than just good enough to scrape through, and will have a far better attitude to the rest of the crew.

Second, the view that salary cuts are a return to normality and that arguments about levels of responsibility, with comparison to train or bus drivers who also control a heavy vehicle with many passengers, is ridiculous - they operate in a two dimensional environment with limited weather effects or other variables in a context where they can stop when things go awry; as pilots we operate in a four dimensional environment with no pause button and a damned sight more variables and complexities. Good luck with the crash rate if you want to let the average bus driver loose at the controls of an airliner.

Clearly arguments made by manager types with a hatred of pilots.
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 16:42
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BALPA are what you want them to be. It appears that those wishing to concentrate on the 'association' status are more from the legacy stable while the 'trade union' angle stems more from the loco operations. Everyone of course want the trade union when the pay comes up for negotiation!
It doesn't really matter. What does matter is how it serves it's membership. That starts at Rep level and runs up through CC's to the NEC. I know of no senior Reps pandering to the whims of FTOs...more the opposite in fact. There is a new leadership team in place who are keen to progress and unify the whole operation. I'm sure they'd be open to constructive feedback.
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 17:58
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BALPA are what you want them to be.
I'm afraid I beg to differ to an extent.

BALPA are simply US! WE are BALPA. WE get what WE deserve!

Sadly, many of us are far too stupid/ignorant/selfish to realise that!

Which is precisely why we are where we are today!
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 21:23
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Different way of saying the same thing
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Old 7th Dec 2014, 21:51
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Aluminium Shuffler,

Nope, I'm definitely not a manager - just not quite as impressed with myself as you seem to be with yourself. Must be great being a Grand Master of 4 dimensional aviation.

I don't deny the job has its challenging moments but let's be honest eh? If it really was that difficult, then airlines would be having to compete to secure the services of rare talent. As it is, any self-selecting and self-financing individual is able to acquire 10,000 hours of experience in about 12 years.

Your intimation that our special skills make us worthy of great reward is somewhat naive and a distraction from the actual situation. The only thing which will protect our conditions is if we stop acting like gifted and self-interested prima-donnas and start acting like a cohesive group of professionals.

Last edited by adolf hucker; 7th Dec 2014 at 21:53. Reason: edited for accuracy
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Old 8th Dec 2014, 00:13
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Adolf

There are ways in which I can agree with you.

It's not any special skill/ability/responsibility that we may (or may not!) have, that are sufficient on their own to simply demand suitable reward.

Only industrial muscle can protect us. But we are (collectively) too stupid/ignorant/uninterested to see that.

But that doesn't mean there aren't special qualities that mark out the best pilots! People able to preserve many lives in the face of diminishing resources/resourcing!

Train drivers (particularly TfL!) T&CS have not reduced noticeably. It's entirely right we ask why ours are falling off a cliff!
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