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British Airways ‘bargain bucket’ pay rates could lead to staff shortages warns Unite

British Airways A319
Tis Meyer / PlanePics.org

‘Bargain bucket’ pay rates for Mixed Fleet cabin crew at British Airways could lead to recruitment and retention problems for the UK’s national carrier warned Britain’s largest union, Unite today.

The warning follows an analysis by Unite of cabin crew starter rates at the UK’s leading airlines which shows rivals to BA, such as easyJet and Virgin, paying over £2,000 more to new members of cabin crew.

The ‘bargain bucket’ pay rates, which belie BA’s reputation as a premier airline, are forcing the airline to take drastic action to get new recruits claims Unite. According to reports, representatives of BA recently approached members of the public outside underground stations and the Westfield shopping centre asking if they would become a member of Mixed Fleet cabin crew.

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 salaries start at just £12,000 with £3 an hour flying pay. Unite has seen no evidence from the company of crew achieving anywhere near the advertised potential rate of £21,000 – £25,000 for the job.

Thousands of cabin crew working for British Airways ‘Mixed Fleet’ are currently voting on whether to take strike action over the right to bargaining rights and ‘poverty’ pay levels. The ballot closes on 14 December with a yes vote raising the possibility of strike action before the end of the year.

Commenting Unite regional officer Matt Smith said:

“The bargain bucket pay rates for Mixed Fleet cabin crew at British Airways are in stark contrast to its reputation of being a premium airline which charges premier prices.

“With basic salaries for new cabin crew more than £2,000 behind rivals such as easyJet and Virgin, British Airways could be facing a serious recruitment and retention problem in the near future.

“It’s shameful that while, the boss of UK’s national carrier, pockets £8.8 million a year, cabin crew are eking out a living on little more than £12,000. British Airways needs to wake up to the anger building over poverty pay which has seen Unite recruit 500 new members since the start of the strike ballot.

“We urge British Airways to avoid sleepwalking into industrial action and do the right thing by its hardworking frontline staff by engaging with Unite to address poverty pay.”

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