24Hr emergency line +44 (0)20 8476 4099
Join Balpa

Farewell, Jim

by John Stembridge-King Head of Organisation

Jim McAuslan has been our General Secretary for the last 13 years, but today he hangs up his honorary pilots’ hat and looks forward to enjoying his retirement.

He was joined by BALPA staff at our headquarters to celebrate the unwavering hard work and dedication he has shown over his tenure at the organisation; the gifts and cards with kind words providing just a small insight into the positive feeling felt towards him here in the office, and indeed out there in the Company Councils, by our members and further afield in aviation.

A dream come true

For Jim, this is a day of reflection, looking back all those years ago to when he landed what he described as his dream job – as General Secretary of BALPA. His very first day in the job is still crystal clear in his mind. He said, “I had pitched for the job with four key objectives: to get the BALPA product tip top; to invest in people – our elected officers and our staff; to make BALPA visible to the outside world, and to ensure it was financially robust. I continue to stick to those objectives and each morning ask myself if we are adding value, have we got good people, do people outside know what we do, and have we got the money to do it?

“I have learned so much in this role, and every member I come across indulges me by explaining things in great detail and sharing their views about how airlines are managed. I have felt very much at home in BALPA. It has been my dream job to represent professional people who are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.”

Facing the challenges

It hasn’t all been easy and dealing with the aviation industry has had its challenges. During his time here he has piloted the organisation through some of the most turbulent and challenging times in the history of air travel. One being BALPA’s most fundamental campaign on flight time limitation and fatigue.

“This was the biggest and longest lasting campaign in my 13 years, and everything we have done has had an element of this,” says Jim. “It’s right at the core of our DNA: how pilots work, the risk of fatigue and how their working hours are put together. We are focussed on fatigue and I’m sure the new General Secretary, Brian, will continue to fight this in years to come.”

Jim came to BALPA from success at the helm of the tax workers’ union at a difficult time. BALPA was located in two places, Gatwick, which dealt with flight safety, and Heathrow, which dealt with industrial issues. “The working arrangement was very separate and we too suffered from being in silos. So we brought everyone together to unite the twin pillars of flight safety and industrial issues. It was needed: poorly paid and fatigued pilots will not be safe pilots. We need pilots that are well rewarded, well trained and able to fly safely,” he says.

A new journey

So, what of Jim’s future? Having lived in south London for 28 years with his wife of 40 years, Marilyn, they recently relocated to Chichester on the south coast in order to enjoy some country air in retirement. “I hope to do lots of things I haven’t had time to do,” he says with smile. “I’d like to write more and learn to sail. I’ll find new challenges, whatever they are! I don’t want to just tend the garden, I want to spend more time on Jim, but if I can pass on my experience and whatever wisdom I have then that is part of my life’s journey.”

On behalf of all the BALPA staff and reps, we’d like to say “cheers” to Jim and wish him the very best for the future.

Welcome to the new General Secretary

Following an exhaustive process, the National Executive Council (NEC) appointed Brian Strutton as our next General Secretary. Brian took up duty on 1st June, joining us from his previous position at the GMB as National Secretary for the private commercial services sector, operating across a wide range of industries including the retail, security, distribution and energy sectors. Please join us in welcoming Brian and help us to give him the best possible start at BALPA.