Thousands of cabin crew working for British Airways ‘Mixed Fleet’ have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over poverty pay and broken promises.
79 per cent of the crew that took part in the ballot voted for strike action. Unite is urging British Airways to return to the negotiating table and engage with the union in a meaningful way otherwise over 2,500 Unite members who crew long and short-haul routes to dozens of destinations could go on strike after the 21st December.
Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees have joined the ‘Mixed Fleet’. Earnings were advertised between £21,000 and £25,000 but in reality start at just over £12,000 plus £3 an hour flying pay.
The crew have rejected a two per cent pay offer and on-board customer service managers are furious they do not have collective bargaining rights. The managers have also endured a six year pay freeze. Meanwhile, Willie Walsh pocketed €8.8 million. British Airways and the parent company IAG reported profits of €1.4 billion, up 64 per cent on last year.
A recent Unite survey found that half its Mixed Fleet members had taken on second jobs on their days off to make ends meet, over two thirds were going to work unfit to fly because they could not afford to be off sick, and a massive 84 per cent said they had experienced stress and depression since joining BA due to their financial circumstances. Some admitted sleeping in cars between flights because they could not afford the petrol to get home.
Unite regional officer Matt Smith said:
“Our members have overwhelmingly voted for strike action because British Airways’ pay rates are indefensible and the crew are at breaking point. The airline’s boss Willie Walsh has pocketed €8.8 million and the parent company IAG reported profits of €1.4 billion.
“Mixed fleet crew earn just over the minimum wage and below the national average. Significant numbers of crew are taking on second jobs, many go to work unfit to fly because they can’t afford to be sick. British Airways bosses need to wake up to the anger and the injustice here.
“Not only are the pay rates indefensible but in aviation, low pay is a safety issue. 30 per cent of the Mixed Fleet crew have been with the company for just under a year. Crew simply can’t afford to stay. Inexperience, fatigue, and the fact that BA recently cut the length of crew training courses means Unite is genuinely concerned about the potential repercussions.
“We urge British Airways to avoid this dispute and do the right thing by both the frontline staff and the travelling public, by engaging with Unite to negotiate a genuinely meaningful way forward.”
79 per cent of the crew that took part in the ballot voted for strike action on a turnout of 60%.
When asked by the Aviation Tribune, British Airways spokesperson said:
“We are extremely disappointed that the union is creating uncertainty for our customers. Mixed Fleet Unite represents about 15 per cent of our cabin crew.
“We remain focused on resolving this issue as quickly as possible without any disruption to customers. We have proposed a fair and reasonable pay increase to Mixed Fleet cabin crew which is in line with that accepted by other British Airways colleagues and which will ensure their reward levels remain in line with cabin crew at our airline competitors”.