Sat, Nov 18, 2006
Retirement Age Biggest Obstacle
British Airways' labor
unions walked away from the table on Thursday without reaching an
agreement on the pension fund. The airline can't reach an agreement
with its unions over retirement age.
BA's pension fund is nearly $4 billion in the hole and it's
asking its employees to help make up the difference.
Unlike some US airline unions, BA's pilots want to retire
younger. Previous agreements had the retirement age at 55, but new
ICAO rules allow pilots to fly until age 65 - and that's what BA
wants. The company stands to save a substantial sum of money by
keeping employees working longer.
The pilot's union is fighting to keep the retirement age at 60.
The airline says if pilots want to retire at age 60 instead of 65,
they must increase their contributions to the company's pension
fund from 6.5% to 11.25%. The rate would decrease to 10%
BA's chief financial officer Keith Williams told Guardian
Unlimited, "We are giving everyone the option to retire at 60, but
they are going to have to pay for it."
Labor unions say they'll take a hard line unless the airline
bends. Union spokesmen say BA is asking for too much money in the
way of contributions and members refuse to work until age 65 adding
"industrial action" may be workers' only resort. According to our
sources, that's brit for "strike."
A pilot's union rep says it and the airline are still a way
apart, and its members remain resolute in their demands.
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