A group of cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic are hoping to bring a crowdfunded legal case in a bid to win better pay and conditions from their employer. The cabin crew, who are represented by Constantine Law, have set up a fundraising campaign on a specialist crowdfunding site for legal claims called CrowdJustice and hope to raise £25,000 to bring the case before a court.
The group says that over the years, recognition for the vital work that cabin crew do has been eroded and now they are left living on a “very low salary”.
“As cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic, a long haul airline, we have seen many changes to our role over the years, including a significant growth in responsibilities surrounding the safety, security and welfare of both the aircraft and passengers.
The training we undergo is vital to your safety and comfort on board. We do all of this whilst smiling, even at 4 am in the morning at 38,000 feet.
Sadly, we believe there has also been a demise in the recognition of what we are trained to do, and this is reflected by the very low salary we receive for working up to 18 hours a day, ensuring our passengers have a great experience with us.”
The situation has got to a point that they claim some cabin crew may soon need to rely on food banks to survive. They also claim that a perceived gender pay gap is making the situation even worse.
It’s important to realise that a gender pay gap isn’t the same as pay parity between genders. There’s no suggestion that female staff are being paid less than male counterparts doing the same job. However, a gender pay gap is created when there are, for example, more men in highly paid jobs than women.
The aviation industry is particularly affected by the gender pay gap because the majority of C-Suite jobs and high-paid pilot roles are held by male employees. This means that on average, female employees who may actually make up the majority of the workforce, on average earn less than their male colleagues.
At Virgin Atlantic, the group hoping to bring the legal challenge say that situation is compounded because there is a higher ratio of male onboard crew managers compared to females – despite the fact that female crew make up around 80% of the total at the airline. “It is our lawyer’s belief that our lower pay is a result of indirect sex discrimination,” the group state.
Around 700 cabin crew are said to be interested in joining the claim. Further information about the case and details on how to support it can be found here.
It looks like this is a separate claim from recent negotiations between the cabin crew union and airline over improving pay and conditions. In fact, it looks like this claim is from a group of crew who aren’t backed by the union.
In response, a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told us:
“Our Cabin Crew are an important and valued team, and their pay and benefits are competitive for our industry. We are always open to hearing any concerns that our people may have and they’ve always been encouraged to address these via a number of dedicated internal channels, or via the recognised crew union, Unite. We’re very disappointed about the public manner in which these matters have first been raised. We have not received any formal complaints or grievances about these issues and therefore, have not been given an opportunity to consider the allegations in the usual way.”
“We categorically deny the allegations raised. We firmly believe the majority of our cabin crew do not support its content and that the best way forward is to continue our negotiations with Unite. We’re committed to ensuring Virgin Atlantic is the airline that crew most love to work for, and that includes continuing to offer competitive pay and benefits.”