Union takes BMI to court over pay-freeze dispute

Unite has announced it is taking BMI to the High Court in a continuing row over pay freezes.

The union, which has been at the centre of industrial action at British Airways, has accused BMI of breach of contract after failing to honour the final part of a three-year pay deal that included annual pay rises.

BMI implemented the first two pay rises in 2007 and 2008 but, due to economic circumstances, Unite agreed that the final pay increase in 2009 could be deferred until 31 March 2010.

However, Unite has said in a statement today that it is clear that BMI “did not intend to honour the agreement”.

Brian Boyd, Unite’s national officer, said: “Staff agreed to defer the increase to help the company during difficult times; they are still waiting for the company to honour its end of the bargain. Staff have not had an increase in earnings since 2008.”

A spokesperson for BMI responded that “constructive talks are continuing and discussions remain ongoing”.

The airline, owned by German carrier Lufthansa, has made losses in recent years due to the popularity of low-cost flights by short-haul operators such as Ryanair and EasyJet. Last year the airline announced plans to cut 600 jobs and suspended a number of Heathrow routes.

According to a statement by Unite, BMI has said that honouring the pay agreement would result in further job cuts.

Boyd added: “Lufthansa is a huge airline, and employees need reward for their dedication and loyalty. Unite remains available to meet with BMI but we have already made clear what we consider an acceptable solution.”

Unite’s lawyers wrote to BMI’s chief executive on 8 September notifiying the company that the union had commenced proceedings against them in the High Court.

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