Friday, 14 December 2007

British Airways Staff Travel - Travel Rights or Last Rites

Staff travel at reduced rates has been a benefit of employment in British Airways for as long as anyone can remember. In the early years most staff travel was subload (subject to seat availability on departure) and tickets cost about 10% of the published fares.

Over time different forms of staff travel were introduced; firm travel, 100% rebate, 80% rebate, often tied to seniority and or length of service yet 90% subload was by far the most frequently used.

From the earliest days the company made Staff Travel available to pensioners, their spouses and young families. Widows or widowers of deceased pensioners, qualifying for a pension also qualified for staff travel on a similar basis to that which their spouse enjoyed when alive until or unless they re-married.

Before civil partnerships were created the company recognised long-term same-sex partnerships and such partners qualified for staff travel in much the same way as spouses.

In more recent times, staff travel fares have been codified or banded for simplification. They are also subject to tax at the same level and on the same basis as commercial passengers.

Now the company is changing Staff Travel again, but this time specifically penalising all pensioners and those it regards as merely "former employees". The new rules are laid out in the Retirees section of the my.baplc website.

The company goes to great lengths to emphasise that it does not regard Staff Travel as a contractual right but a privilege granted at the company’s discretion, thus giving the company the right to vary the offer at will.

This may or may not be the case but these changes, which can only be regarded as parsimonious, Draconian and illogical, will affect the lives of many, if not all, pensioners and their families.

They are parsimonious because they are targeted specifically at those people who cannot retaliate, those who are generally on a lower income than current employees and who are in the latter parts of their lives when the ability to travel often brings variety and excitement to an otherwise mundane existence.

They are Draconian because they remove at a stroke the basis on which many people have decided to plan for their retirement, moving overseas to be near relatives or in less expensive economies.

They are illogical because the most common form of staff traveller, those on 90% subload, make 100% contribution to the taxes levied against the airline by various governments. Recent changes in the UK for example mean that the airline is taxed on a per aircraft basis, and thus pays the same tax whether the seats are sold or not. Barring staff from these seats on a subload basis means the airline pays more in tax than it need pay.

All pensioners and retired staff to whom I have spoken recall that the opportunity for reduced rate staff travel was always mentioned prominently in job interviews and advertisements for it tended to counterbalance the pay rates which were generally lower than the median for the type of job. If anyone has examples of paid advertising for vacancies from any period which mention Staff Travel I would be very interested.

What is incontestable is that Staff Travel is long established and extensively used and therefore a valued element of airline employment. For long periods of time the company and its forerunners made no major changes to Staff Travel and such stability formed the basis on which staff planned their lives after retirement.

In fact many staff, particularly during the 1970's and 80's when the company was seeking to reduce the size of its workforce, took voluntary severance. Most of these people made their decision whether to leave and help the airline adjust to the new economic situation or to remain in post and retire at normal retirement age based on the totality of the package that they were offered.

This included what they perceived their prospects would be in the broad employment market, and what incentives were offered. These incentives usually included a lump sum, a deferred pension and reinstatement of their qualification for Staff Travel when they started to receive their pension.

What seems grossly unfair and immoral, even if it is not illegal, is for the company to change one of the elements on which the decision was made, 15 or 20 years later. Basic fairness would seem to argue that their entitlement to Staff Travel should, at least, remain as it was at the time of their severance. It might not help those who now enjoy civil partnership status but it would at least allow those who made serious and major decisions based on the totality of the offer made when they accepted severance to live out the remainder of their lives on that basis.

And therein lies the biggest unfairness of all. Pensioners are a declining group. Each month their numbers reduce. Even if their financial circumstances permit, each month fewer are physically able to contemplate long-distance air travel.

To penalise them now, as the new Staff Travel arrangements penalise them makes the airline look like a mean-minded, vindictive bully, exercising its weight against a defenceless group of people who’ve served it loyally for much of their working lives, who have no industrial leverage and who only wish for a relatively short extension of an opportunity to travel for which they worked and planned for up to forty years.

This posting is the opinion of one pensioner. To read the comments of others or to add your own comment, click on the word "Comments" below. To make a posting (as opposed to a comment) on the same or another topic please contact the author for access - click on the word "Comments" below. Comments and postings are moderated by the blog owner but only for moderately good taste and legality.

50 comments:

Murg said...

Bravo !! Well said Phillip !! I agree with every word and am appalled that BA have taken this step. I'm also critical of the way the word has gone out, were 'they' ever going to tell us ? To hide the definitive document entitled Staff Travel 2009 amongst some 500+ FAQ's on the my.baplc.com website is just devious, and clearly designed to keep the fact from those most affected, i.e. the older, longer retired, pensioners whom BA admit may not be computer literate and whom are advised to find a 'buddy' to help them to even book Staff Travel - as they now have no other way !
Disgraceful.

I am one of the group that took Severance, or Early Retirement at the behest of the then Chairman, and I accept that there was obviously an inducement at the time, but my decision to do so was influenced by the total package as mentioned, and this included Staff Travel. As I re-located to an overseas post it was vital to my decision, and had I not done so I would have served a further 7 years,drawing salary and ending up with a greatly enhanced pension, and also incidentally increasing my Staff Travel entitlement by a total of another 14 yrs - instead of being summarily cut-off.

Who on ABAP, BALPA, RSA,the Liasion Council, Retirement Support ( Support !! ) etc. agreed to this monstrous suggestion ? Stand up and be counted - if you dare.

If B.A. had chosen to discontinue the so-called 'concession' to all of us( tho' I believe some get contractual Staff Travel ? )across the board, then we would have to have accept it as Commercial decision, but this is a selective slap in the face based on age. Maybe the Human Rights Commission should be advised ?

Shame on you BA. I used to be proud to say that I worked for BOAC / BA.

Alan Murgatroyd
Capt. (ret'd)
New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all you have said Phillip. One point no one has mentioned, Aircrew due to Pension Rules had to retire at 55, potentially reducing their years of qualifying period 'Under the proposed scheme' by 10 years!!!
The whole idea is Ageist and to my knowledge this is strictly not allowed in Industry these days!!!
As I only ever get Standby travel what does BA gain from denying it to their old very loyal employees.
One other point 'proposed Bookable Tickets' after only 5 years, I did 2 months short of 20 years and don't qualify for any bookable concessions!!
Maybe BA should be reminded of the old adage 'If it isn't broken don't fix it'!!!!

Retired BA Senior Flight Engineer.

Murg. said...

ret'd Snr. Flt. Eng. has rightly pointed out that aircrew were denied the last 10 yrs qualifying period, this in fact means that under this new scheme they lose out on Staff Travel by 20 yrs. viz. 10 yrs more service ending 10 yrs later.

Anonymous said...

Well I dont know what the r.s.a,s have done or if they have been consulted certainlty A.B.A.P have not been consulted to my knowledge perhapes we should leave comments or questions on the Mybaplc website or write to Willie Walsh nothing about it onthe 25 year club website either I dont know if the t.u.s were consulted either I agree its despicables.Ray Smith

David Barnard said...

This is the first I had heard of the proposal, so I tried to find the details - and find I can't even log on to my.baplc.com !

I also retired early, and was much influenced by the continuing staff travel, my wife's family being in Canada.

It sounds dishonest, but I first want to read the details of the proposal (or is it already decided?).

Murg said...

Your blog and the subsequent comments prompted me to check my records and see what British Airways wrote to me regarding Staff Travel when I took severance in 1982.

The letter actually states: "I am writing to let you know your concessional travel entitlements as retired staff". The word "entitlements" may not imply that staff travel was contractual but certainly suggests that the arrangements were more than mere discretionary handouts.

Of course there is a caveat: "When taken the concession will, of course, be subject to the regulations then governing concessional travel."

However those words are considerably different to the caveats that appear all over the new BA document and certainly imply clearly that the concession will be continuing into the future and not withdrawn on a whim, especially on a selective basis, as now.

Perhaps more importantly since these changes all affect retired staff of a certain age, do these changes infringe the laws against age discrimination that certainly exist here in New Zealand and probably elsewhere as well?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with all previous comments (though I think we pay reduced taxes on ID100s) and encourage you to make both Willie Walsh and the Staff Travel manager aware of this blog and the strength of feelings in the retired community.

Anonymous said...

Active BA pensioners are far from powerless. Quite the opposite in fact, you have plenty of time and opportunity to organise and implement campaigns that may embarass the company into a withdrawl. Unfortunately, those of us that still work here have more to lose, ie our incomes and thus the risk is greater. I was recently told by someone in HR "Life isn't fair, so deal with it" and "If you think you can get a better deal with another company, go and work for them, the choice is yours." The worst thing about that was, it didn't shock me. This is the kind of uncaring and dismissive attitude I've come to expect from the people who drive the steamrollers. It seems the only thing we're entitled to now is our opinions and mine is THIS SUCKS. Anyone want a copy of my CV?

I.B said...

According to the latest 'touchdown mag' we (current pensioners) are all to be sent a communication outlining the proposed changes from April 09 in the new year 2008. It is thought though that some changes are to be phased in sooner. Don't feel I can comment too much until I have seen the full proposals.

I cannot open the document in the staff travel site and have no idea why. It has a lock symbol beside it in my address bar. By the way for those that do not know your password for access to mybaplc for staff travel purposes it expires every ninety days and has to be changes online every 90 days. If you do not log on within that time you may have to apply for a new one via telephone.

Regarding some of the other comments it does say in touchdown that 'Former employees who have exhausted their period of eligability, ie have had staff travel for more than their length of service with BA, will benefit form a final five years travel-effective from the date of implementation.' Even so there will be many who live or have relatives abroad will be severly affected by this.

I think the problem with challenging any of these new proposals is that BA have always said Staff travel is a 'concession' and does not form part of your contract of employment. I retired 3 years ago and cannot find it in my contract from 1974. BA could by that premise withdraw the facility to former staff and I doubt legally they would be infringing any 'ageist' legislation because it is not a 'contractual perk'. At least not for flight or cabin crew! No doubt they will have another rule for their numerous so called managerial staff'!!!

The only one advantage I can see is that we can now have companions and we can change those every six months. They still cannot travel without us though.

This is of no benefit to me though as 'single staff' I had already put muy daughter down as a companion before I retired so that whe would not lose the concession at age 24. Existing employees 'companions' wlll be able to travel without the staff member under the new rules though. Now that is 'discrimination'!! Irene Beason (WWF/PSR/LHR, Ret'd 2004)

drat said...

I am another of those appalled at the proposed changes which will end my staff travel concessions. I had always understood that staff travel produced a net revenue benefit to BA and, as has been pointed out elsewhere, now contributes to the overall tax charge levied on airlines.
So my first question has to be -
Why are these changes being introduced?
My second is -
Just who was consulted about the
changes?
My third question is -
What is the position concerning industry staff travel agreements? Am I to understand that a retired staff member from another airline, with less service than me, will be able to enjoy concessionary travel on BA flights whilst I will will be considered not eligible?
Again,like many others, staff travel in retirement was an expectation which I valued and which was taken to be a normal part of my retirement package.
This whole announcement smacks of skulduggery somewhere, and I would
hope that together we can cause enough pressure to elicit a few answers.

murg said...

DRAT has made a valid point about other airline staff, and also asks for a concerted effort - this is vital and needs letters to Willie Walsh, ABAP, BALPA, RSA and the Liasion Council. My recently received edition of the latest BALPA magazine has an article on the attitude of Airport Security personnel towards working airline staff, and urges letters to the relevant authorities - the salient point being "..... it really doesn't take long and it's not how it's written, it's a numbers game, a dozen or so letters will have little impact but a concerted campaign will, be polite, be persistent, expect to be fobbed off but write.... "

Anonymous said...

I am forunate in that these changes will not impact on me. However, I have a number of former colleagues who left (so called voluntary severance) the company in the early 80's when BA was slimming down dramatically. On reaching the age of 50 some took their pension to take advantage of rebated travel. Now they find themselves faced with an end date to this concession five years from April 2009. I think this change is mean spirited and reflects badly on ALL who participated in drawing up and approving these changes. I bet were it to have impacted on them this change would never have seen the light of day.

pat walton said...

I support what other contibutors have said and thank them for their input.
I was in receipt of my BA pension at age 50, having taken severence in the early 80's. The retention of staff travel in retirement certainly influenced my decision to leave the company.
I have had access to staff travel now for 10 years. Sadly I have been unable to use it at all, because as a divorcee/single person I can only take selected members of my family. Because I usually holiday with friends I have had to buy the same package holiday as they do so that we can travel and stay together.
I was delighted to read that BA intends to extend staff travel to nominated friends/family. This means that at last I will be able to travel with my son and daughter-in-law. Then I read on to discover that they also intend to go back on the severance pact we made by limiting the number of years I am entitled to staff travel. In my case this works out to less than 5 years, and I doubt they will make any concession for the 10 years I was unable to use staff travel.
As murg says "this is a selective decision based on age". I expect we were all proud to work for BOAC/BA and BEA/BA in the past. The company has obviously "moved on" from being the airline of our fond memories into the era of putting profit before people; and certainly profit before pensioners.

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree with all that has been said so far. It is a sad day to see that the British Airways management are now operating like their American counterparts in DELTA. I have friends who have suffered great hardship as a result of the cavalier attitude of these people in the USA but I never thought the diseased minds would spread to the UK. However I would not like to be the prophet of doom and I agree with the comments that the letter of disapproval and the numbers game is the probably the only leverage left to us - out with pen and paper!
WIZ

Ray Smith said...

I have just recieved a questionaire from Sigrid Mapp Chairman of the retired staff council asking me to fill in and vote for the third runway.But i did not recive one about Staff Travel,why was this I dont expect he will read this page so have written to him as well as the editor of Touch down but I am not holding my breath for a reply Ray

mermaid said...

I am one of the very few who have been positively affected by the changes.A single staff who can now change my travel companion every 6 months instead of having to keep the same person I was forced to choose upon retirement and then keep for the rest of my life. I have to say I was delighted.

The only problem is that as these are travel companions they are not allowed to travel independently of me. If the travel companion does not live in my city, I then have to be inconvenienced by travelling to the city they live in and virtually escort them to and from the holiday destination; not exactly convenient for me. Not only that, but if they live overseas, then can never come to visit me.

I do have my documents telling me what I was entitled to upon leaving and am a little concerned that if they can change this so easily, what next? Will they drop my pension allowance??

The other thing that does concern me is the service fee. These things do tend to increase with time while our pensions will not. A 10 pound service fee on a small domestic fare will seem an awful lot. It will get to the point that it is just cheaper to book the competition on a confirmed ticket and be done with it so any revenue they got for their empty seats, they won't be getting.

Why is it that presently employed members can have their companions travel independently of them but not retired employees travel companions...???

Anonymous said...

May I suggest that all those who wish to oppose/query these changes should write to their Member of Parliament asking them to write toWillie Walsh requesting a copy of the terms and conditions of their employment and for a copy of Staff Notice 27. They should also request that Mr Walsh set out the basis for BA's claim that Staff Travel is a non-contractual discretionary benefit granted at the sole discretion of British Airways and whether this overrides the terms & conditions of those who joined BOAC.

victor said...

I live in Italy. I took a severance package with BA 8 years ago. The retired staff travel concessions were an important part of the inducement package to leave the company. For me this change does not make things better.The change does not come into force until 2009. Does this mean that BA are prepared to listen to their former staff.

Swagman said...

Nobody has mentioned the fact we pensioners with our 21J category will be pusshed much further down the queue for confirmed seats. The flood gates have opened for thousands more staff to push in front of us (5 - 20 yrs x thousands). Why not give these 5 - 20 yrs 100% tickets a category of 22J which would leave us with a small chance of firm seats.

Anonymous said...

In the 1960's and 70's BOAC recruited a large number of ex-RAF flight deck crew. They joined fully trained and experienced with ATPLs (mostly paid for by themselves). Many also had experience on other airlines, saving thousands for BOAC/BA on training. But they had to retire age 55 whether they wished to or not. Yet a ground/office grade employee may work for 40 plus years. Those who had to retire at 55 in fairness, should be given 10 years grace to reflect a retirement age of 65.

Peter said...

I agree entirely with Phillip Howells' excellent letter about the new staff travel system. I believe he speaks for most retired staff. My hope is that Willie Walsh will get a grip on the group heading staff travel and instruct them to adhere to BA's stated policy "to continue and foster a close relationship and loyalty with its former employees in retirement."
Peter Lythell former Cabin Service Officer.

Flip said...

Actually the maths of the previous comment is wrong. Not only did flight deck crew have to retire at 55 but they also could also have started drawing their pension 10 years earlier - thus they should probably argue for 20 years extension of eligibility.

However, as others have noted, by no means all pensioners are affected adversely. For that reason alone it would be more sensible to argue for BA bringing in the new scheme as they propose, just not imposing the eligibility rule for existing pensioners.

Murg said...

Flip - 21st Jan - is correct, flying staff retired 10 yrs earlier, with 10 yrs. less service, therefore they are are being granted 20 yrs less travel concessions than general staff under the new rules, whereas at the moment they get the same as everyone else - a lifetime. But why differentiate, why not treat us all equally? Ideally allow all existing pensioners to retain their lifetime concession, as they were promised, or at the very least commence the new service years countdown from the same point as present staff - i.e. the implementation date of 01.04.09? Treat us all the same, present staff and pensioners alike. Where's the argument against ?

Mike said...

Having been abroad I am just catching up on these changes but has anybody noticed this apparent contadiction ? The Policy Document says that thirty years 'service' gives me two ABC's but then says that 'eligibility' starts from the date on which one's entitlement to staff travel priveleges began, i.e.one year after joining. Which rule applies to the guy with say thirty years and say ten months service ?

Anonymous said...

I think the 14th Dec. expresses things beautifully. The removal of the subload travel from elderly pensioners seems STUPID (BA will lose money thereby, not save) and DISHONEST ( I for one was swayed into taking early retirement by the subload prospect - my wife's family all live in Canada) in being retrospective.
And to choose to attack those with no power to retaliate is COWARDLY.
(And to choose NOT to consult the Association of British Airways Pensioners is shameful.)
David Barnard

Anonymous said...

Like others I make no claims to expertise about Staff Travel but in response to Mike's last comment I think perhaps he's overlooking the fact that the Staff Travel 2009 document pensioners can access is intended for them alone. In that sense I think we have understood "eligibility for Staff Travel" to mean when we became eligible for Staff Travel as former staff, ie when we started drawing a pension.

But I could be wrong.

murg said...

I asked Sandra Sellers, ABAP Chair, for a statement of ABAP's position, this was her reply :

Dear friends

I understand your frustration about BA's imperious new policy.
However ABAP as an organisation was never consulted on the matter as it is the Liason Council's role to represent the pensioner population on staff travel matters whilst ABAP focuses on protecting our pensions. Naturally many of us are affected by this change and are none too happy but the Liason Council has told me in no uncertain terms that they have done all they can and that ABAP should not get involved.
Sandra.

and my response

Ms. Sellers,

Thank you for your eventual response, and I'm sorry you are taking this position.

I agree that ABAP's primary position is pension protection, but it would appear that the L.C. is prepared to consider another approach to B.A. and ABAP's support would strengthen their case.

Yours faithfully,

Many hold a different view and are attempting to get ABAP support to assist the Liasion Council Chair, Sigrid Mapp, who appears to be prepared to get Willie Walsh and BA to acknowledge - and hopefully address - our concerns. I believe there is soon to be a routine Liasion Council meeting and it would be nice to have our concerns raised then. They need to know what you think.

Clare Hatchwell, Staff Travel Manager, also replied and adv. that there was consultation with Trades Unions, the Liasion Council and Pensioner representatives - who ? ( she didn't answer that question. ) She went on to say, in effect, that it is a done deal and efforts are now totally, and only, being directed to implementing the new changes, not considering any amendments. She said the changes were made to make Staff Travel more financially viable to BA.

Pls. refer to the 5 points in Philip's "Leaking From The Top" article on this 'blog' - all are contradictions of her statement that changing the S.T. rules is to achieve cost savings, and allowing the relatively small number who are seriously affected to continue beyond the 5 yr. 'extension' would hardly show up on their radar. It is a non-argument.

Some staff, and some pensioners, will enjoy better concessions with Staff Travel 2009, and can look forward to a long time in receipt of their concession, even with the ending of a lifetime agreement, so we are indeed a very small group, mainly those who have been retired a very long time - and are probably no longer interested in travelling, flying staff, who were cut off at age 55 and therefore can only 'enjoy' S.T. for a shorter period than anyone else, and those who "Severed" in the early 80's - for the same, shorter service, reason.

Mick said...

Philip
Well done for championing this cause. But I have to say we must all beware that we just might get what we ask for! In particular the to have 'staff travel' classed as contractual. The moment we get this new definition the tax man will be on us like a ton of bricks!
Can you imagine how much the tax mean will be after me for for say my 100% First Class return flight to Barbados? I believe this is a real issue and we should focus on just getting what we have been in the past.

Best regards
Mick Fuller
Retired 2000

Philip Howells said...

This comment raises two important points, firstly as far as I am aware no-one has suggested asking BA to make Staff Travel a contractual benefit.

Secondly, a return to the status quo is unrealistic. It would mean a complete and unnecessary change in British Airways Staff Travel plans and also penalise that group of pensioners who do benefit under the new proposals.

Pensioners have consistently accepted that BA has the right to change its Staff Travel policy in respect of current staff whenever it wishes. Those staff can choose whether to continue with their employment or move to another job with better benefits.

What BA shouldn't do is to change the Staff Travel rules - and especially the eligibility - for pensioners who can't change their relationship to BA.

Removal of the eligibility rules is the principal demand pensioners are making from British Airways.

Philip Howells

Anonymous said...

Many of us accepted a “severance package” offered by the company back in the 1990’s.

Along with the offer of a lump sum payment, British Airway’s offer to maintain our staff travel concessions throughout our retirement was a major factor in helping us to decide whether or not to accept their proposal and plan our futures accordingly.

It was also a major factor in helping the company find the required number of severance volunteers it needed to resolve its financial difficulties at the time.

I for example am now 54 and my staff travel was reinstated at age fifty. When I really do reach retirement age at sixty five and am in a position to fully benefit from the retirement that my severance plan promised me, according to the new policy, my staff travel concessions will no longer be valid!

Arrangements that many of us have for our retirement, such as retirement homes abroad and so on, are now distressingly invalid because of this new decision.

I’m sure that we are all totally proud to say that we once played a part in this company’s success story, never forget just how privileged we are to enjoy the benefits of staff travel concessions, albeit discretionary, but how can BA now justify breaking such an important promise that was made to us ?

Ex purser.

Anonymous said...

Many of us accepted a “severance package” offered by the company back in the 1990’s.

Along with the offer of a lump sum payment, British Airway’s offer to maintain our staff travel concessions throughout our retirement was a major factor in helping us to decide whether or not to accept their proposal and plan our futures accordingly.

It was also a major factor in helping the company find the required number of severance volunteers it needed to resolve its financial difficulties at the time.

I for example am now 54 and my staff travel was reinstated at age fifty. When I really do reach retirement age at sixty five and am in a position to fully benefit from the retirement that my severance plan promised me, according to the new policy, my staff travel concessions will no longer be valid!

Arrangements that many of us have for our retirement, such as retirement homes abroad and so on, are now distressingly invalid because of this new decision.

I’m sure that we are all totally proud to say that we once played a part in this company’s success story, never forget just how privileged we are to enjoy the benefits of staff travel concessions, albeit discretionary, but how can BA now justify breaking such an important promise that was made to us ?

Ex purser.

Anonymous said...

As a pennsioner coordernater for retired staff i have received many questions with regard to the changes to S/T most cannot find the answers on FAQ so here are a few How will this effect staff of other A/lines will the same rules apply to them Next when my S/T has finnised will i be able to get Hot line Tickets next can we pay extra money to upgrade our annual bookable concessions to a higher on-load code And I have many more questions from my very upset and frustrated but proud and loyal to BRITISH AIRWAYS PENSIONERS

Philip Howells said...

I hope this will ho help the writer of the previous comment. Firstly, the proposals that have been published in Touchdown and in the document on the Retiree's part of the intranet, refer only to the Staff Travel scheme as it is affects former staff. It doesn't spell out what BA is offering interline staff.

As far as your other points are concerned, they're really best put to Staff Travel section but Clare Hatchwell, Staff Travel Manager, is as elusive as the KGB Press Office used to be during the Cold War in terms of her email or postal access.

Recently she has advised pensioners with questions regarding Staff Travel to contact:
retirement.1.support@ba.com
hopefully you'll find them helpful.

Murg said...

I have just written this letter to selected BA Management personnel.

Ladies and Gentlemen of BA Management and others.

Cessation of Staff Travel to selected pensioners,

I've already written to some of you regarding the appalling decision to remove the Staff Travel concession from certain groups of pensioners following the introduction of Staff Travel 2009, but YOUR STATEMENT on the front of the latest Supplement to Touchdown needs some explanation please.

Quote:~ "Existing former staff who, at the time of leaving, were identified as eligible to staff travel concessions.......will continue to qualify based on the criteria that was in place at the time of leaving " Unquote.
At the time of my leaving the criteria for all qualifying former staff, of whom I was one, was an expectation of lifetime concessions. It has always been accepted that staff travel is a concession, although I believe that some do get a contractual entitlement, and if the concession had been withdrawn across the whole Company, it would be a different story, but please explain, in the context of YOUR Touchdown statement, why I am to be cut off after the 5 yr extension that has been allowed, when my retirement period will then exceed my employed time. Why cannot I .........continue to qualify based on the criteria that was in place at the time of leaving.....?? YOUR WORDS.

New rules should be applied to new retirees, not retrospectively to the existing ones, tho' I would accept starting a 'countdown' of my previous service time w.e.f. from the date of introduction of Staff Travel 2009, LIKE ANYONE ELSE. Why Not ?

I await your explanation.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your excellent representation of our ‘cause’.

I was employed by the airline for 22 1/2 years. During the course of my work I sustained a repetitive strain injury in my left arm.

After some negotiation, I was offered an ill health pension in 1991 (at the sprightly age of 46!). One of the reasons I accepted this offer was because I was offered staff travel for the rest of my life. If I had known that BA would withdraw that benefit from me, I would have negotiated a different solution.

Since I have been retired from BA, I have made a number of decisions, such as purchasing property abroad, based on the regular use of staff travel. I consider the changes to my arrangements to be material and that they are being imposed on me without discussion, vote, consent or compensation.

I believe that BA should be challenged legally and I would be very happy to contribute to the expenses of a Group Action.

BA has always argued with the Revenue and Customs that serving and retired staff contributed the marginal cost of otherwise empty seats. BA maintained that they were not providing a benefit on which the individuals should pay tax. If that position has changed then I would expect ALL staff to be paying income tax on their staff travel in future.

I notice also that Mr. Walsh is asking retired staff to support a new runway at Heathrow, yet at the same time he is removing my expectation to use staff travel in the future. Given that I live near the flight path of the new runway, I am encouraged to campaign against a development that I shall rarely be able to use.

murg said...

An exchange of letters with David Lebrecht, Acting Manager - People, B.A.

From me …………………

Ladies and Gentlemen of BA Management and others.

Cessation of Staff Travel to selected pensioners,

I've already written to some of you regarding the appalling decision to remove the Staff Travel concession from certain groups of pensioners following the introduction of Staff Travel 2009, e.g. the longest retired, the 'severed' , and flying staff in particular, but your statement on the front of the latest Supplement to Touchdown - attached - needs some explanation please.

Quote:~ "Existing former staff who, at the time of leaving, were identified as eligible to staff travel concessions.................will continue to qualify based on the criteria that was in place at the time of leaving " Unquote. See attachment - your words.

At the time of my leaving the criteria for all qualifying former staff, of whom I was one, was an expectation of lifetime concessions. It has always been accepted that staff travel is a concession, although I believe that some do get a contractual entitlement, and if the concession had been withdrawn across the whole Company, it would be a different story, but please explain, in the context of your Touchdown statement, why I am to be cut off after the 5 yr extension that has been allowed, when my retirement period will then exceed my employed time. Why cannot I continue to qualify based on the criteria that was in place at the time of leaving ??

New rules should be applied to new retirees, not retrospectively to the existing ones, tho' I would accept starting a 'countdown' of my previous service time w.e.f. from the date of introduction of Staff Travel 2009, like anyone else who retires after that date if that will help you. Why Not ?

I await your explanation.

His reply…………….


This note is in response to your various emails to both myself, Willie Walsh and the other managers involved in the planned changes to staff travel benefits that were recently announced.

The new policy, Staff Travel 2009, has been designed to be simpler, fairer and to provide many of the changes that people have been asking for for years such as a flexible nominee policy and improved access to premium cabins. However, the company has at the same time to manage its costs which has resulted in a balanced set of policy changes. I make no apology for the fact that these changes have been geared towards serving employees who are currently contributing to the companies success. The former employee package remains extremely generous, few companies , if any, continue to provide access to such benefits.

The change you are dissappointed about is the new leavers policy. To qualify under the revised policy, an individual is now required to have a minimum of 15 years consecutive service , there is no longer a link to age or drawing a pension. The basis of this new policy is the recognition of employee loyalty through service which we believe is a fairer approach overall. Those that qualify will be eligible for staff travel benefits for a period equal to their length of service. It was decided to apply this policy to all our eligible existing former employees as well to not only manage costs but to avoid having two classes of people - those with concessions for life and those with concessions for a period equal to length of service. That would simply not be fair.

However, no one will lose travel concessions immediately, those like yourself that have already enjoyed concessions for a period equal to their length of service will have a 5 year run down until 2014. We believe this to be a generous arrangement that gives people a reasonable period of time to continue enjoying their concessions to the full and adjust to the change.

The quote from Touchdown is actually referring to qualifying criteria such as length of service and is not a reference to the policies such as staff travel for life. Whilst I appreciate that you are very disappointed with this particular aspect of the new policy, I would draw your attention to the fact that we have developed a policy that provides benefits for everyone even for a limited period of time. Our Trade Union and retired colleagues have signalled their broad approval of the changes being introduced after an extensive period of consultation.

As you know, it is possible for BA to make changes to its staff travel arrangements from time to time as its absolute discretion, as staff travel is a non-contractual discretionary benefit which can be amended (or withdrawn) at any time at the sole discretion of BA.

I would like to make clear that the company has no intention of reviewing these policy changes and will introduce them as planned in April 2009.

Yours sincerely,

My response……………….

Thank you for your reply, which has done nothing to properly explain your actions.

I would like you to consider the following points from your letter :~

The change you are dissappointed about is the new leavers policy……………… No, I am prepared to accept that - but why doesn't it apply to me ? I am prepared to start my 'countdown' of applicable loyal service from 01.04.09 LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE - WHY NOT ?

those like yourself that have already enjoyed concessions for a period equal to their length of service will have a 5 year run down until 2014……………..

Please don't try to tell me that I have already 'enjoyed' some of my retired concession, I bought petrol at around 10p a gallon when I left school, should I now be charged more than todays school leavers because I was fortunate enough to 'enjoy' that price in the past ? The past is past, we start with a clean slate - together, equally. WHY NOT.

The basis of this new policy is the recognition of employee loyalty through service which we believe is a fairer approach overall. ……………… Are you suggesting that present pensioners were not loyal employees who contributed to the company's present success ? That is how you are treating us. How is it fairer to now reduce ex-flying staff's concession by 20 years over other staff - the difference between being forcibly retired at age 55 versus 65 ? Those agreeing to Severance, who rose to the call to assist the company, are also disadvantaged disproportionately

It was decided to apply this policy to all our eligible existing former employees as well to not only manage costs but to avoid having two classes of people - those with concessions for life and those with concessions for a period equal to length of service. That would simply not be fair. ……………But you are creating two new classes of people - those who start their concession versus service w.e.f 01.04.09 - and those you are chopping off after a derisory 5 years !!! To call this fair is patently absurd.

I would like to make clear that the company has no intention of reviewing these policy changes and will introduce them as planned in April 2009………………
I am neither convinced nor impressed by your stance, and ask you to please reconsider those whose past efforts created the successful company that now pays your salary.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Further to my letters to David Lebrecht, here is his final reply and my response ..........

Dear Mr Murgatroyd, it is clear that this is a subject on which there is no prospect of us reaching a common view. That is regrettable but I see no value in pursuing the discussion. The company consulted with appropriate interest groups on the changes and we will go ahead in 2009 as previously communicated.

Regards,

David Lebrecht

and my response .............

20th February, 2008

Dear Mr.Lebrecht,

I agree, your opinion and prejudice is obvious but as I have already stated you can rest assured that those affected are not going to rest assured. I am not alone in my views.

Thank you for at least replying to me.

Alan Murgatroyd
Capt. BOAC / BA ret'd.

Pieter van Heerden said...

Like Alan Murgatroyd I am absolutely gobsmacked at the slap in the face administered by BA. I also took early retirement at the behest of the then chairman and the availability of lifetime staff travel facilities was a vital element in my decision.

I was in fact on the verge of writing a letter to "Touchdown" stating how proud I am to have made my 24 year contribution of selfless loyalty, to the welfare of the airline.

Well said, Alan and Philip, I concur with everything you say. Don't let us be fobbed off so easily.

Pieter van Heerden
Captain (ret'd)
France

murg said...

Piet V. Heerden pls. e-mail me murga@xtra.co.nz

Anonymous said...

I have only just heard about this nonsense a few days ago. I took deferred pension rights in 2002 after 14 years service, and like many others did so on the understanding of lifetime travel benefits.
Please let me, and others, know of anything we can do to present a legal challenge to this proposal. I am happy to contribute.
Iain Webster
iain@idDeals.com

val said...

I agree with all of you. I am 60 in November and have 10 years service (30 in total at LHR). I now have to decide whether to leave a job I love before April, thereby keeping some concessions or stay after April and either leave whenever, with nothing, or work another 5 years.If they hadn't moved the goalposts I might have stayed another 5 years, but one year at a time, who knows what the future holds. But, having to stay 5 years is like a sentence. They treat us like garbage. There are others in my situation in T5 PSU.

Val

Philip Howells said...

Val, I'm pleased that you and your colleagues have discovered the blog. From the moment it was created at the end of the last decade, BA has sought to deny ABAP the oxygen of publicity, even though ABAP won its High Court case against BA and subsequently stopped the company combining the pension schemes, for no reason than to limit its own responsibilities. It refuses to tell staff or pensioners of ABAP's existence. It refuses ABAP to even purchase advertising space in Touchdown or BA News.

But things are about to happen. Please watch this blog, tell all your friends and colleagues. Put our details on your noticeboards and anywhere that our message will reach BA people.

Today's fight is about fairness to a few thousand pensioners - but tomorrow's could be about you. Don't imagine that a merger between BA, IB and AA will result in an international staff/pensioners golf match. Anything that's not contractual will be up for grabs.

Anonymous said...

Well done for setting up this site.This eventual withdrawl of staff travel is typical of the current narrow mindedness of B.A management and its approach in general to running its business.Everything is bulldozed through without proper thought. Can they not see that as this particular action will be reflected back to existing staff,cynicism/demoralisation etc becomes magnified, at what cost? They promised us staff travel for life!! well that was some promise. So what are they promising to current staff that they will break ? Its very sad to see such a powerfull brand name being run down by these people.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what onload priorities there will be? No mention of this at all in the FAQ's or is that something else BA is keeping under wraps? Or do serving and former employees get to use the same one? (at last) And what of Cabin priorities? And what happens when (god forbid) we have IB and AA staff vying for a seat to Sydney.

Anonymous said...

When staff travel becomes a distant dream of good times had, will we still be able to "qualify" for cruises with TIS-Travel Industry Services? Will Fred Olsen sailing from Dover be full of retired BA staff, full of discontentment for the new "former employees", young enough to enjoy BA giving them staff travel on a plate when they leave. And all those "former employees" who have already left, what a joy for them, do they get Staff Travel given back to them?
This is a great blog, keep up the good work. We must not give in.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to find out what BA proposes in regard to retired staff of other airlines.

Harry Hopkins

Philip Howells said...

Harry

I'm afraid the answer is nothing will change. If you lose Staff Travel privileges with BA then you will also lose your Interline privileges.

Equally, pensioners of other carriers who are entitled to Interline travel on BA will continue to enjoy those privileges.

At no time has BA indicated it is prepared or wishes to unpick the Interline Agreements.

It is blatantly unfair.

Please support the BA-be-fair campaign - details at:

www.BA-be-fair.com

mary cooper said...

I cannot find the addresses mentioned on the news letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron etc.
Where are they?? Not on BA-be -fair.com

Mary Cooper (Retired)

Philip said...

Mary
They're both available on
www.BA-be-fair.com

At the end of the main page is a line in parenthesis which says "Click here for addresses and contacts". Depending on your browser this line may be printed in blue to indicate that it is a live link. Clicking on this line will take you to a page with all the addresses you ask for.

If you want the address of your MP or the local papers or radio and TV stations, these too can be reached by links from this addresses page.

If you still have problems finding them please contact webmaster@www.abap.org.uk who will write to you by email.

Anonymous said...

It used to be, I believe, the case that you had to be in receipt of a Pension to qualify for BA Staff Travel.

The word...Existing Former Employees...is a bit misleading.

It now seems, that if you have left BA, and have had say 10 years service, and could still be in your 20s or 30s, your staff travel concessions will be reinstated.

I've heard of former employees being contacted by BA, and informed of this.

So much for me working hard for BA, and after 20 years, getting the same concessions as a 29 year old with a firm ticket. This is not an ageist remark, just a fact.