Increasingly, members (generally new members) have told the Independent Pilots Association that we do not promote ourselves enough. We are pleased that many of our members join by ‘word of mouth’. Often, when we speak to these members, we find that it is because of a colleague that we have helped that the new member has decided to join us. Word of mouth means we are doing the right thing for our members, so they recommend us, but it is a slow burner to achieving greater membership.
First and foremost, we are a professional association and trade union representing the pilot community. It’s that simple. We put our members first. We are not here to curry favour with management at any airline or UK operator. Employers will be challenged where necessary. We don’t incur significant travelling or meeting costs. Once our essential overheads are paid, funds – your subs, are used solely to advise, support, and represent our members.
The biggest compliment we receive is that our members are pleased that they can pick up the phone and talk to somebody who can help. In all honesty, we cannot always tell members what they want to hear. That is not what we are paid to do. But we help our members, whatever the circumstances. No cherry picking, no questions asked (other than the information we need to know to be able to help). Any case that is considered for litigation is merits tested to ensure the most appropriate use of members funds. There is no point making promises that we cannot keep, and our mandate is realistic. To put our members first.
There are only really two things we ask of our members. Please ensure that we are able to take your subs payment each month. There are only so many times our membership team can chase you before we resign your membership (and we are then asked if we can backdate membership when that person needs us). Secondly, if you join us and you have a pre existing employment issue, please be upfront about it. If you tell us that you have not when you actually have, we will find out as we construct the necessary timeline of events. This places all concerned in an awkward position, as, much like any insurance policy, and as clearly stated on our website, we do not cover pre existing employment issues and/or disputes.
Covid-19, has decimated the UK aviation industry (as well as globally). Since March last year, our work has predominantly been related to the pandemic. In terms of pilot retention, some operators have fared better than others. Whilst the vaccine rollout offers some hope, vaccination needs to be an international effort for air transportation to properly resume. Our biggest concern remains the timescale to get members back flying at something that remotely resembles pre covid levels. The two issues that are of great concern are the lack of specific support from government to get us flying again (whilst funding to airports is welcomed, there need to be carriers to operate flights from those airports), and the report of the Global Travel Taskforce. Whist the report sets out 14 recommendations, there is no current timescale for implementing those recommendations. International travel recovery is crucial to the survival of many UK operators, and we are closely monitoring steps taken here on in to support the return of aviation.
As a trade union, we are incredibly proud of the work that we do on behalf of our members, whether individually or collectively. We encourage our members to engage with us so that we can provide the best service possible. Many of you wrote to your MP earlier in the pandemic after we made a template letter available. We have communicated with many operators to ensure fair processes are followed, and we have written to the Secretary of State for Transport to express our concerns for the aviation sector in light of the pandemic. We also wrote to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in relation to the administration of Flybe and the provisions of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
On a daily basis we are advising members who need advice and support. Whilst much does relate to covid, we have ongoing tribunal proceedings on a number of matters, including Thomas Cook and Flybe, plus cases on behalf of individuals. We also advise on many other areas, such as TUPE, bonds, contract issues, Equality Act claims, and collective bargaining where the IPA is the recognised union. We work with diverse operators in fixed wing and rotary sectors.
Previous articles have asked why join the IPA? Perhaps it is now time to change the question to why wouldn’t you join the IPA?