Thousands of cabin crew working for British Airways ‘Mixed Fleet’ will begin voting on strike action next Wednesday (16 November) in a dispute over ‘poverty’ pay levels which are leading to crew sleeping in their cars between shifts.
The ballot of members of Britain’s largest union, Unite working on a combination of long and short haul flights from London Heathrow airport closes on Wednesday 14 December. It comes after crew rejected a 2 per cent pay offer by the airline and on-board customer service managers fight for the right to collectively bargain after six years of no pay rises.
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 £12,000 and average pay packets including allowances total just £16,000 a year.
A recent Unite survey lifted the lid on the toll ‘poverty pay’ was having on crew at the airline, with some members reporting doing two to three jobs on their days off to make ends meet, or sleeping in their cars between shifts because they can’t afford the petrol to drive home.
Elsewhere in the survey over two thirds admitted to going to work unfit to fly because they could not afford to be off sick, while a massive 84 per cent said they had experienced stress and depression due to their financial circumstances.
The ballot follows last week’s revelation that Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), bizarrely swore to investors during a presentation saying ‘show me the (expletive) money’ (see notes).
Commenting Unite regional officer Matt Smith said:
“British Airways, once the ‘world’s favourite airline’ is fast becoming the ‘world’s least liked’, paying poverty wages while its parent company predicts annual earnings of £4.7 billion between this year and 2020. The promise of salaries being between £21,000 and £25,000 for ‘Mixed Fleet’ cabin crew is a flight of fancy, with BA’s offer of a 2 per cent pay rise doing nothing to address pitiful pay levels which are causing dedicated crew real hardship.
“It should be to the company’s eternal shame that they, the UK’s national carrier, are making billions while their cabin crew responsible for maintaining a safe environment are working while sick and without adequate rest. BA’s bosses, City investors and shareholders need to wake up to the anger brewing before Willie Walsh becomes known as the Philip Green of the skies.”