British Airways staff are due to strike again next week over the continuing issue of pay for so called “Mixed fleet” staff. The new strike announcement comes after no improved offer coming from Britain’s flag carrier. The Unite union have announced that staff on the poorer contracts will take a 72 hour strike from Thursday 19th.
The first strike which was held this week was thought to have been the cause of the cancellation of 40 flights. The company has reiterated its pledge to get customers to their destinations despite the strikes.
The controversial subject of mixed fleet cabin staff began after the last large and long-running pay dispute between the company and its staff. After this they created a new contract, and that is what these so called “mixed fleet” staff are on. They argue that they are doing the same job as their peers for less pay. In many cases it actually appears that they do more work for less pay. This has caused the union to once again take up a battle with the company.
British airways itself has a recent history of industrial disputes. The company faced significant pressure between 2009 and 2011 when staff took on the company in what was then a ferocious battle that saw the staff unanimously back a pay deal at the end of the long running dispute. Though the dispute took its toll on the carrier, costing them in the region of £150 million. Those strikes were held over 22 days and had caused significant disruption to BA’s operations. They will hope to avoid anything like the same level of disruption this time around.
In a release on their website, the union announced that they were calling on the carrier to drop confrontations and get back to negotiating with them. Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “British Airways should be under no illusion about our members’ determination to secure a settlement that addresses their concerns over poverty pay.”
As the dispute rumbles on it will be interesting to see how the company holds its nerve. One of the key factors behind the length of the last strike was the resolve of the company’s management team to not cave in. Though disappointingly from the company’s perspective they were forced to in the end. It is highly likely that BA will need to try and settle this dispute in a timely manner, in hope of avoiding another long and drawn out battle with its staff.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.