British airways cabin crew have announced strike action for the 10th of January, this comes after a strike in December was halted. The 48 hour strike is due to so called “mixed fleet” staff who are on new contracts not being paid as well as existing staff. British airways had offered a pay rise to the affected staff but this was rejected.
“Unite remains hopeful that a negotiated settlement which meets our members’ aspirations can be achieved and would urge British Airways to engage constructively in meaningful talks to address poverty pay,” said the union handling the negotiations.
It is understood that the “mixed fleet” staff make up around 15% of BA’s staff. The company insists that it will have contingency in place for the staff walkout, but has yet to reveal them. The union has accused the company of trying to influence staff to state that they were not union members. They’ve also accused the company of making its staff take “poverty pay”. Whilst BA on a notice on its website regarding the action has stated “We are extremely disappointed that Unite has once again chosen to target our customers.” The company and the union have a fractured past of industrial disputes, though this is the most significant fall out for many years.
The issue of new staff being paid less than old ones is hardly a new problem, but British airways are one of the UK’s most visible and important companies. It currently employs around 40,000 staff and regularly carries more than 40 million passengers a year. They will be under pressure to set the tone going forward, as a heavily unionised business BA needs to be seen to be playing fair, if what the union is saying is true, then it is a poor reflection on the business. In the UK staff have a right to join a trade union, though this is being done less and less nevertheless people have the right to the support of a union.
It is likely that the action will go ahead, if you’re one of the travellers who may be affected then please check out BA’s website at ba.com, they will provide up to the minute travel information for those who may be affected.
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.