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British Airways staff threaten summer strike

British Airways check-in staff are threatening to go on strike in midsummer as unions exploit the travel chaos to push through a new collective agreement.

Unite union bosses say check-in staff have missed wage increases that bring wages to pre-pandemic levels.

BA has returned management pay to pre-crisis levels, but the airline is refusing to reverse a 10 percent cut imposed on workers during the pandemic, it is claimed.

Around 500 employees will be voted out between June 7th and 27th ahead of a possible strike aimed at causing maximum disruption over the summer holidays.

The row comes as long queues stretch out of terminal buildings at this half-term, while airports and ground handlers grapple with increased demand following the easing of Covid travel restrictions earlier this year.

Sharon Graham, Unite General Secretary, said: “A strike by our members will have an immediate impact on the service we provide to customers, so I urge BA to fight back and restore pay to these workers immediately.

“British Airways used Covid cover to brutally cut members’ salaries. BA has since reversed the pay cuts imposed on management but refuses to do so for our members. That’s shameful. Unite will not allow our members to be treated as second class workers.”

British Airways said check-in staff declined an offer of 10 per cent payment for the current year.

It follows the escalation of a dispute between BA and its pilots. The Telegraph revealed over the weekend that pilots face a 9 per cent pay cut next year under a wage deal agreed at the height of the pandemic and is set to fund the salaries of unemployed staff.

Frustration is growing among pilots and ground crew as the British airline promises a return to profitability and a large increase in board pay at parent company IAG.

However, the pilots agreed to the pay cut to reduce the number of layoffs.

Martin Chalk, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, said this weekend: “As executives and shareholders consider pocketing their napkins before dipping their snouts back into the bonus and dividend troughs, pilots are warning they are on full salaries through their Balpa union will stand and conditions will be restored and their sacrifices will be duly acknowledged.”

Unite today warned BA customers they could face significant disruption in the event of a labor dispute.

Unite Regional Officer Russ Ball said: “British Airways had every opportunity to negotiate a settlement of this dispute but decided against it. Our members therefore choose industrial action as a last resort.

“Strike action and the disruption it brings can be avoided by BA returning to negotiations and returning our members’ pay rates to pre-pandemic levels.”

A British Airways spokesman said: “We have received notification that some of our customer service colleagues will be taking part in a vote on industrial action. This is extremely disappointing. After two very difficult years, during which the airline lost more than £4billion, these colleagues were offered a 10 per cent payment for that year, which was declined. Other parts of the organization accepted the same offer, recognizing the position in which the company still finds itself.

“We remain committed to speaking to our unions about their concerns and we hope that together we can find a way to reach agreement in the best interests of our employees and our customers.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/05/30/british-airways-staff-threaten-summer-strike/ British Airways staff threaten summer strike

Russell Falcon

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