BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute

BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/16/ba-cabin-crew-call-two-w...

Up to 2,000 staff will take industrial action after pay deal collapses over reprisals for staff who went on strike earlier in the year
Striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrate outside Glasgow airport in January
Striking British Airways cabin crew at Glasgow airport in January. Staff who took action earlier in the year were set to lose bonuses and travel perks in the new pay deal. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Friday 16 June 2017 09.51 EDT
Cabin crew at British Airways are to strike for two weeks in July, in the longest walkout to date in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

Up to 2,000 members of BA’s mixed fleet, which employs mainly younger, recent recruits on inferior terms and conditions to most crew, will take renewed action after a pay deal foundered over reprisals for staff who went on strike.Members of the Unite union rejected a deal that included bonuses and travel perks being withheld from crew who had taken action earlier in the year.

Unite said they had called the action, which runs from 1 to 16 July, after the airline refused to accept the union’s final compromise position on the sanctioning of striking cabin crew.

The union said it would also “vigorously pursue” legal action against BA on behalf of 1,400 cabin crew who face sanctions. Unite accused BA of having formed a blacklist of striking crew.

A planned four-day strike that was due to start on Friday was suspended last week in an attempt to resolve the dispute through talks.

However, talks at the conciliation service Acas earlier this week failed to progress.

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “The refusal by British Airways bosses to meaningfully consider our compromise offer is deeply disappointing.

“A resolution to this long-running dispute was within the grasp of BA, but instead of grabbing that opportunity, bosses rebuffed it.

“Unite believes the divisive way British Airways has targeted striking members of cabin crew is unlawful and amounts to blacklisting.”

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“The airline should be under no illusion of Unite’s intent to pursue justice on behalf of its members all the way to the highest court in the land.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, told the Guardian before the strike announcement that the latest offer had been “a fair negotiation in the circumstances”.

He said: “The pay negotiations were complete, you reach an agreement, it gets rejected – I don’t think you can criticise us for that. It was a deal acceptable to the Unite union officials, they said they would recommend it. I’m happy that we reward our people in an appropriate way.”

A BA spokeswoman said: “As for previous periods when Unite called strikes of Mixed Fleet cabin crew, we will fly all our customers to their destinations.

“This proposed strike action is extreme and completely unnecessary. We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite agreed was acceptable. Unite has already confirmed it is pursuing the non-pay issues in this dispute through the courts.

“We urge Unite to let its members vote on the pay proposals.”

Crew have walked out for a total of 26 days to date, since the row erupted in January over what the union had branded “poverty pay”. So far, the airline has ridden out the action, and said that all booked passengers had travelled to their destinations regardless. However, a number of flights have been cancelled, and the airline has also chartered or “wet leased” planes and crew from other airlines such as Titan and Thomson Airways to continue operating services.

Pay at the fleet starts at a basic rate of just over £12,000, although the airline says that with flying pay and allowances most crew earn more than £21,000.