One part of my job that I really enjoy is going out and meeting pilots. Quite often, a member who is usually about to rush off to depart on duty wants to know, in thirty seconds, what he or she gets from being a BALPA member.
“Well, there are many benefits of BALPA membership” I reply.
“Representing members" – before BALPA there was nobody to represent pilots effectively
“Promoting flight safety”
“Promoting pilots’ concerns”
The list goes on…
Although most members are aware of all the various services and benefits that BALPA provide, it is always worth reminding ourselves of them every once in a while. Below are just a few of the questions that I have been asked recently by members and I have also taken the opportunity to point out some of the behind-the-scenes activities that BALPA have had a direct input into.
“If you were to ask 100 members of BALPA why they are a member, what do you think would be the most popular answer?”
… The survey says the most popular answer is: Insurance. But what exactly is meant by ‘insurance’? The natural thought for many members is that if they have an incident, BALPA’s professional experts can be called upon to give help in a time of need.
This, of course, is true, but it goes deeper than the event itself. All too often after any event, it is easy for those who work in the company’s flight operations offices to judge a members’ actions. They may think that the member’s actions were not of the ‘standard expected’, for example, so they conclude that the member has a case to answer. By having the support of BALPA to call on if needed, initial judgements and subsequent decisions can be tempered.
“I need some financial advice. Can BALPA help me?”
Yes, BALPA can help you. Sharing our offices at BALPA House are BALPA Financial Solutions (BFS). Made up of a team of officers with expert knowledge on a wide range of financial matters, it is their job to offer financial advice to members should they need it. BFS are an independent body, with no affiliation, and can offer support and guidance on investments, loss of health insurance, and pretty much everything else in between. BFS are different from other financial advisors in that the majority of their customers are pilots, and so, as a result, the support they give to members is more relevant and useful.
“I’ve heard that BALPA work to preserve jobs. Is this true?” Yes.
Through the strength, perseverance, and sheer hard work of our Company Councils we have in place for each airline that we represent, we are proud to say that we have been able to minimise proposed job losses within a number of airlines. BALPA works alongside the companies to protect and retain as many jobs as possible. If there are compulsory redundancies, however, we work to ensure that the people affected are offered jobs as soon as the recruitment process starts again.
“Is this just propaganda for ‘Big BALPA’?”
While that is not the primary purpose of this post, I can see how it may seem like that to some. We are all members of BALPA – and we are its life and soul. We are BALPA. Without members, BALPA would not be able to run the way it does and offer so many services and benefits. The main aim of this post is to show members that BALPA really does offer the support and guidance we say we do and that we are here to help and represent you. The stewardship of BALPA finances is thoroughly vetted, and so we stand on solid ground there. We are constantly checking and re-checking again how we are doing.