Is an end in sight for the bitter dispute between British Airways and the airline’s Mixed Fleet cabin crew? On Wednesday evening, The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) announced that British Airways and the Unite union – who represent Mixed Fleet crew – had agreed to talks.
“We’re pleased to report that BA and Unite have both accepted our invitation to attend Acas talks,” said a spokesperson for the arbitration service.
However, the two sides haven’t yet agreed when those talks will take place: “We’re currently in discussions with the parties to arrange a suitable date for the talks to take place.”
Acas is an independent organisation that provides conciliation services to resolve workplace problems. In the past, the service has helped to successfully resolve 94% of cases brought to it through negotiation and problem-solving.
The union that represents approximately 2,500 Mixed Fleet cabin crew has said that it will approach the talks with BA in a “positive manner.”
Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “Unite has accepted Acas’ invitation to talks regarding the British Airways mixed fleet dispute and will be approaching them in a positive manner. We trust that British Airways will do likewise and talk meaningfully so that a resolution to this long-running dispute can be found.”
— Unite the union (@unitetheunion) March 15, 2017
The increasingly hostile dispute has led to claims that BA cabin crew receive “poverty pay” from the airline. The salary for new crew starts at £12,747 per year with an additional £3 an hour duty pay. British Airways claim that new cabin crew also receive quarterly bonuses that are linked to performance.
But union bosses say they have “seen no evidence from the company of crew achieving anywhere near the advertised potential rate of £21,000 – £25,000 for the job.”
Talks between the two parties have stalled since members overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action. The latest round of those strikes went on for a whole week and was the longest yet. British Airways was forced to charter planes and crew from airlines including Titan and Thomson Airways to cover for striking staff.
In response, airline bosses have withheld pay and bonuses from Mixed Fleet crew in what Unite has called “bullying behaviour.”
Cabin Crew who have taken part in strike action are to be stripped of their staff travel privileges for two years and will no longer receive bonus payments from 2016 or 2017. However, it’s been claimed that BA has offered to incentivise crew who end their dispute with the airline – whilst those who do not are penalised further.