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Threatened Industrial Action Results in Increased Pay for CAA Staff

It seems that strike action at the UK Civil Aviation Authority has been averted for the time being after negotiations between trade union Prospect and the CAA board resulted in an increased pay offer from that previously proposed. Last month, FTN reported that staff members at the CAA were being balloted on industrial action over pay. The call for strike action was a first for the UK’s aviation regulator.

The CAA had previously offered staff a 5% pay rise, but Prospect urged its members to reject the offer, stating that it is too little to offset pay cuts imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as current inflation rates, that Prospect says represents a real term drop of 37.2% since 2011.

In a statement issued at the end of July, Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “We will not hesitate to take industrial action to win a better deal for our members and restore the CAA’s status as a world-class aviation regulator. Their goodwill in taking a pay cut during the initial stages of the pandemic to enable their employer to continue to function has not been met in kind by the CAA.”

According to Prospect, CAA staff have been facing a cost-of-living crisis after more than ten years of pay degradation. The trade union state that in real terms, CAA wages have fallen by 37.2% since 2011 against a current backdrop of high inflation.

About 40% of the CAA’s income is derived from variable charges linked to aviation activity. After aviation traffic collapsed in the spring of 2020, as result of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the regulator’s income was cut. Now the positive impact of the recovery is not only ramping up CAA revenue, but also highlighting an increasing requirement for labour.

Prospect had expressed concerns that the 5% pay offer would worsen ongoing recruitment and retention issues at the CAA. Moreover, action threatens the ability of the aviation regulator to fulfil its statutory responsibility for aviation safety. The ballot was held at the beginning of August and Prospect reports that CAA staff members voted

“overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over the employer’s refusal to provide a fair and affordable 2023/24 salary increase.” Prospect added that an internal survey of CAA staff members also found that 42 percent of employees are considering leaving the organisation due to poor pay and reward, excessive workload, lack of recognition and not feeling valued by the organisation.

Prospect said that 67% of those who voted in the official ballot did so in favour of strike action, while 87% voted in favour of taking industrial action short of a strike. Turnout was 65%, well over the required legal threshold, Prospect added.

With the ballot complete, Prospect negotiators reconvened with the CAA board. With the CAA’s initial proposal in April for a 5% salary increase being rejected, Prospect negotiated a further increase to be paid in October, of 2.5% for the workforce in lower pay bands and a 1.5% increase for members in a higher pay band. Prospect also negotiated an underpin of £1,750 which means no one will receive a smaller increase than this, benefitting those at the lower end of the pay range. These increases will be paid as consolidated payments, Prospect confirmed.

John Stevenson, Prospect Negotiator, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is so bad that the CAA’s initial pay offer simply was not enough for workers to continue to cover their bills.

“Thanks to the determination of our members to stand their ground and not accept that initial offer we have managed to secure a far better deal which represents a permanent pay uplift.

“This is a significantly improved offer, and we recommend to members that they accept it. This is not the end of the fight however and with prices continuing to rocket we will be coming back to the negotiating table to try and continue the work of getting our members a fair salary.”

Image accredited to London City Airport Stock Photography

Author: FTN Editor

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