Cabin Crew Strike Over Poverty Pay!

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Pickets at Heathrow during the 2010 cabin crew strike that brought in cut-price cabin crew
Pickets at Heathrow during the 2010 cabin crew strike that brought in cut-price cabin crew

THOUSANDS of cabin crew working for British Airways ‘Mixed Fleet’ have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over poverty pay and broken promises.

Seventy-nine per cent of the crew that took part in the ballot voted for strike action on a turnout of 60%. Unite warned of strike action some time after the 21st December.

Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees have joined the ‘Mixed Fleet’, which was established after the 2009-10 strike action, bringing in a much lower pay rate for new starters.

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. 

‘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.’