British Airways cabin crew to stage successive strikes over pay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 1:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 9:31pm

British Airways cabin crew have announced four more days of strikes, to start on February 22, as a dispute over pay continues.

About 2,900 crew members in BA’s mixed fleet belonging to the Unite union will stage industrial action for four days starting next Wednesday. The union says it aims to “pile on the pressure” on the airline, which it accuses of paying poverty wages to cabin crew.

The strike is in addition to four days of strikes due to start on Friday. Since the start of the year there have been 11 days of strike action, including six days last week. But executives last week ruled out further negotiations.

Basic pay in the mixed fleet, which all new recruits to BA join, starts at around £12,000 (US$14,950), though the airline says crew earn a minimum of £21,000 after allowances and bonuses. Unite says cabin crew earn £16,000 a year on average.

Unite says BA has been forced to “wet lease” aircraft from other airlines to cover for the striking staff and estimates that this is costing the airline between £2,000 and £3,000 an hour.

Unite’s regional officer Matt Smith said: “Our estimates put the amount of money British Airways has spent on defending the dispute and poverty pay at £1m.

“This is money which the airline has taken a conscious decision to give to other airlines rather than addressing pay levels which are forcing hardworking mixed fleet cabin crew into financial hardship.”

He urged BA to attend arbitration talks with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

BA said the action would not disrupt passengers’ journeys. During this weekend’s strike, all flights to and from London Gatwick and City airports would operate as normal, as would the vast majority of flights from Heathrow, a spokesman said. The airline would be “merging a very small number of flights” – around 1 per cent of flights planned, the spokesman said.

“We will publish more details over the weekend in relation to further strikes called by Mixed Fleet Unite for 22-25 February, but as in previous strikes all customers will fly to their destinations,” the spokesman said.

During last week’s strike BA cancelled 34 flights due to strike action, but the airline said all passengers had reached their destination.

More than 9,000 cabin crew belonging to a different Unite branch had voted to accept the pay deal this week, according to a BA statement.

Last week Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, said: “The offer’s on the table. There are no negotiations. The strikes have had no effect, the passengers are flying and flights are operating. So I’d say this is completely futile action on the part of the union. The offer we’ve made is a fair offer.”