Virgin Atlantic pilots are reportedly being balloted on potential strike action over the Christmas period in a long-running dispute over union recognition.

According to a report by The Sun, the Professional Pilots Union (PPU) has threatened industrial action in a continuing row that also includes flight allowances and expenses.

The PPU was behind a similar strike threat last Christmas, though the walk-out did not go ahead because Virgin Atlantic obtained an injunction against the move. The strike was later ruled to be unlawful because the union had failed to inform the airline about the number and category of staff voting on industrial action.

Virgin Atlantic does not recognise the PPU as an official union, but does negotiate with the British Airline Pilots Association, which is believed to represent more than half of its pilots.

The carrier disputes the PPU’s claim that it is the largest union standing for its pilots and says flights are due to operate as normal despite the strike threat.

Talks are reportedly due to take place on 4 October to avoid industrial action.

A spokesperson for the union said: “Despite the Professional Pilots Union representing a significant number of Virgin Atlantic pilots, the airline refuses to recognise it in any negotiations over its members’ pay and conditions. Our issue is not about money, simply the right to be represented by a chosen union. It has zero cost to the company.

“Within 24 hours of informing the company of our intention to ballot our members on industrial action, we have suddenly been offered last-ditch talks on Friday to avert strike action. We are encouraged by this offer and hope that genuine progress can be made.”

Virgin Atlantic commented: “Currently we have no active industrial dispute with our pilots. We’re aware of reports that the PPU, which represents a minority of our pilot workforce, may be considering a ballot for industrial action over union recognition.

“We value our pilot workforce enormously and have an ongoing and constructive relationship with our recognised union, Balpa. We’ve also been encouraged by the discussions that started earlier this year between Balpa and the PPU in an attempt to identify a framework for working together.

“We would like to reassure our customers that all Virgin Atlantic flights continue to operate as normal.”

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