IN the first test of public opinion since British Airways check-in staff announced that they will take strike action to have their pay restored to the pre-pandemic rate – more than seven in ten (73 per cent) of those polled say that the airline should ‘give it back’.
The poll, undertaken for Unite the union by Survation yesterday, confirms public support for the check-in staff’s decision to take industrial action. Nearly six in ten (59 per cent) of those polled say that a strike to restore pay levels is justified.
And, in a further rejection of the airline’s refusal to do the right thing by its staff, more than one in five of those polled (22 per cent) say that a strike by BA employees makes them less likely to fly with the airline.
Unite says its members – over 500 check-in staff based at Heathrow – are between £3,500-£5,000 worse off since BA slashed their pay by 10 per cent during the pandemic.
The airline has since restored the payment to managers, along with bonuses, but is refusing to do the same for staff.
Last week, the union revealed that 94.7 per cent of the check-in staff had voted to take strike action to restore their pay.
Strike dates have yet to be announced as the union has offered BA a window of opportunity to resolve Unite’s concerns or trigger strike action.
Commenting on the poll results, Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: ‘British Airways has once again got this very wrong.
It sacked workers during the pandemic, despite being paid by taxpayers to hang onto them, and is now dishing out bonuses to managers while continuing to hold down workers’ wages.
‘If BA is heading for a strike it is because they are refusing to do the right thing and give back what they took off this workforce.
‘Quite clearly, the public sees the justice in this dispute and potential strike because they also saw the injustice of ‘fire and rehire’.
This has never been about a pay rise – it is simply about recovering the wages of these workers to their pre-pandemic levels.
‘These workers are over £3,500 worse off, some are even down £5,000, since their wages were slashed. The airline is now well on the way to recovery, and it can afford to restore what it took from the workers.
‘Unless it gets a grip and backs its staff, BA is fast heading towards a summer of strikes.’