People travelling with British Airways over Christmas could see their plans disrupted after 2,000 cabin crew vote for strike action.
Around 15% of the airline’s cabin crew were balloted about striking at Heathrow airport and around 79% voted for the action. The vote came after cabin crew rejected a proposed 2% pay rise.
Unite union members are due to walk out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. But Unite has not said if strike action will affect passengers travelling over the Christmas period.
BA criticised Unite for “creating uncertainty” for their passengers.
The dispute centres on 4,000 staff who have worked for the airline since 2010 on mixed fleet contracts. About 2,500 of them are Unite members. The union says that despite pay advertised at £21,000 to £25,000, it is actually nearer £12,000, plus flying pay of £3 an hour.
According to Unite, half of staff on mixed fleet contracts have had to take on second jobs. They also say that over two-thirds were working despite not being well enough because they could not afford time off sick.
Some crew members have even had to sleep in their cars between shifts as they couldn’t afford petrol to get home. The union also found that 84% had suffered from depression and stress due to financial worries since working for BA.
Unite say that alongside the ‘indefensible’ pay rates, low pay can also be a safety issue in the aviation industry. If the action goes ahead, it could involve up to 4,500 staff on mixed fleet contracts.
BA spokesman have accused the union of creating uncertainty for airline passengers. They say they are focused on resolving this issue and to minimise disruption to their customers. The airline believes they have proposed a fair and reasonable pay increase, in line with what other BA colleagues have accepted.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service have confirmed that talks aimed at avoiding Christmas strike action will be held this week.