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The “pay, hours and holiday” of airline pilots
In cases of compulsory trade union recognition, is there an obligation to negotiate items which are not core contractual terms “relating to pay, hours and holiday”?
In British Airline Pilots’ Association v Jet2.com Ltd  EWHC 1110 (QB) the High Court held that, in cases of compulsory trade union recognition, the parties are not obliged to negotiate items which are not core contractual terms “relating to pay, hours and holiday”.
The Central Arbitration Committee had declared that the Claimant trade union be recognised by the Defendant airline (represented by John Bowers QC
) as entitled to negotiate on behalf of its pilots in respect of their “pay, hours and holiday
” (Schedule A1 to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, paras. 3(3); 22(2)).
The central issue was whether rostering arrangements – the shifts, hours, and periods worked by pilots – were “pay, hours and holidays” falling for negotiation.
Agreeing with the Defendants’ submissions, Supperstone J held that there was no obligation to negotiate items which were (i) not “apt for incorporation” because they were non-contractual in nature (expressing an objective or aspiration); (ii) not apt for negotiation within the statutory framework; and/or (iii) adjectival or ancillary matters not falling within the core terms relating to pay, hours and holidays. In reaching his decision, he took into account the statutory framework, contemporary parliamentary material, and “business sense” in the context of the case.
He also found, separately, that there is no obligation on the parties to come to negotiations with a particular state of mind about any particular issue. All that is required is that the employer discuss pay with the trade union before varying the employees’ contractual terms relating to the relevant matters.
On the facts, the Defendant had not breached the statutory scheme.