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Breaking: British Airways Cabin Crew and Ground Staff Vote Overwhelmingly in Support of Strike Action

Breaking: British Airways Cabin Crew and Ground Staff Vote Overwhelmingly in Support of Strike Action

an airplane on the tarmac

Cabin crew and ground staff at British Airways have voted overwhelmingly in support of supporting striking action in a rapidly escalating dispute over pay and conditions at the embattled airline.

In a consultative ballot involving cabin crew, check-in agents, customer service staff, engineers and other ground staff, more than 97 per cent of those who took part in the poll voted in favour of supporting industrial action.

The ballot was conducted by the powerful Unite union and involved every work group represented by the union at British Airways. Workers may now be asked to take part in a formal strike ballot with any action designed to cause maximum disruption over the busy summer holidays.

a group of airplanes on a runway
Photo Credit: British Airways

“To anyone that has flown British Airways recently, this overwhelming consultative ballot result with come as no surprise,” the union said shortly after the ballot results were made public on Monday.

“British Airways’ management now can no longer ignore the universal discontent across their own workforce, in the way they have ignored the needs of their own customers,” the statement continued.

“Despite BA claiming hundreds of millions of pounds of furlough pay from government, thousands of experienced staff were dismissed, and have simply not been replaced.”

The dispute centres on a pay deal negotiated earlier this year that saw some lower-paid employees at the airline get a 10 per cent pay raise. The union accepted the deal on the basis that the amount being offered was the very best that British Airways could afford and that no higher offer would be made.

The agreement, however, included a so-called ‘me too’ clause which, in the event that BA did find extra money for a particular group of workers, would be extended to every other workgroup represented by Unite.

With British Airways struggling to recruit certain ‘below wing’ workers, the airline quietly bumped up annual salaries for new joiners by £1,300 but hasn’t extended the pay rise to all of its existing employees.

“BA’s leadership created this chaos,” the union slammed. “The responsibility to resolve it lies entirely with the airline,” a spokesperson said, saying disgruntled customers should direct their ire at BA and not workers who are setting the stage for a crippling walkout.

“Two years of job and pay cuts means that BA customers and staff are unfortunately paying the price through sky-high ticket prices, rock bottom service levels and non-existent morale. Staff are simply no longer willing to excuse, or pay the price for poor management decisions”.

The consultative ballot does not authorise a legally binding strike and a formal strike would have to be carried out before workers are allowed to stage a strike. The dispute is separate from a formal strike ballot already underway by hundreds of check-in staff who are demanding their pay and benefits are restored to pre-pandemic levels.

British Airways has already been forced to cancel hundreds of flights over the next few months due to staff shortages. The airline industry has become embroiled in a war of words with the UK government over who is to blame for the chaos amidst calls to relax immigration rules to fill vacancies with cheaper foreign labour.

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