A strike by British Airways’ mixed fleet cabin crew will stretch to the end of August unless the airline hammers out an agreement in the long running dispute over pay and the sanctioning of striking workers, Britain’s largest union, Unite warned yesterday (Thursday 3 August).
The warning came as Unite members working for British Airways mixed fleet announced a further two weeks of strike action from Wednesday 16 August to Wednesday 30 August, including the August bank holiday.
Today sees the 58th strike day by mixed fleet cabin crew. Unless a deal can be hammered out, it will mean the cabin crew will have been on strike for the whole of July and August forcing British Airways to spend millions on ‘wet leasing’ aircraft to cover the striking cabin crew.
The news of further strikes follows what Unite described as a half-hearted offer by British Airways to reinstate travel concessions for workers who took strike action.
Unite is pursuing legal action on behalf of mixed fleet cabin crew who have been sanctioned for taking strike action in the long-running dispute. Sanctions have included the removal of bonuses worth hundreds of pounds in addition to travel concessions.
Commenting, Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said:
“Strike action will continue until the end of August unless British Airways hammers out a deal with Unite to resolve this dispute.
“The airline needs to get around the negotiating table and start recognising that punishing low paid workers fighting for fairer pay is no way for a ‘premium’ airline to behave.
“The offer to reinstate travel concessions for striking workers is half-hearted and fails to deal with the money British Airways has taken away from low paid workers.
“In robbing striking workers of hard earned bonuses the airline has sought to sow division and effectively blacklisted workers for taking lawful industrial action.
“Last week’s massive profits show British Airways can afford to tackle poverty pay rates and settle this dispute by dropping its divisive sanctioning of striking cabin crew.
“We would urge British Airways to start treating our members fairly and drop the bullying tactics to avoid the escalating cost and disruption that continued industrial and legal action brings.”
As part of the dispute, Unite has launched legal action against the government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the ‘wet lease’ of nine Airbus aircraft by British Airways to cover striking cabin crew strike. The union argues that the lease of aircraft and cabin crew from Qatar Airways breaches European regulations.
Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees join what is called ‘mixed fleet’, where despite promises that pay would be 10 per cent above the market rate, basic pay starts at just £12,192 with £3 an hour flying pay. Unite estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn £16,000, including allowances, a year.