1. ITV Report

Virgin Atlantic pilots vote for series of strikes over Christmas and New Year

The strike comes amid a dispute over union recognition. Credit: PA

Pilots at Virgin Atlantic are to stage a series of strikes over Christmas and New Year as a dispute over union recognition rumbles on.

The Professional Pilots Union (PPU), which represents around a third of Virgin’s pilots, said its members had voted by more than 7-1 in favour of industrial action.

PPU spokesman Steve Johnson said pilots felt "bullied" by the airline's refusal to acknowledge the union, which has led to them being "shut out" of negotiations over a company review of workplace benefits.

He said the union had conducted a work-to-rule action for two years in a bid to secure recognition by Virgin, but had now been forced to take further action.

A string of four-day strikes are planned for December 22 to 25, December 30 to January 2, and January 4 to 7.

“Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members,” he said.

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“Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice this doesn’t happen.

“We hope that Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by recognising the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our members' long-term security.

“Our door is – and has always been – open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travellers.

“This is such an easy fix for the company; by including all unions in negotiations – not just one selected by the company – it can then live up to its claimed inclusiveness and we can get round the table together to negotiate a sustainable outcome for our members.

“The pilot workforce is a professional and committed group that sees striking as anathema, but clearly feel bullied into this action by a company that chooses to ignore them.”

ITV News has contacted Virgin Atlantic for comment.