Socialist Worker

Striking for eight days—BA cabin crew escalate the fight in pay struggle

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2541

BA rally for strikers

Unite workers at BA are striking against poverty pay (Pic: Socialist Worker)


British Airways “mixed fleet” cabin crew have called eight days of strikes in nine days—escalating the fight against their employers' poverty pay.

It will be the Unite union members’ longest walkouts so far in their ongoing dispute.

The workers were set to walk out for four days from Friday, with another four-day strike from Wednesday of next week. It follows two three-day strikes last week.

Bosses insist that the action is having no impact—but their actions tell a different story.

They have implemented procedures that are used to deal with immense disruptions, such as the volcanic ash cloud that halted hundreds of flights in 2010.

And they have spent vast sums chartering planes from other airlines including Thomas Cook, Titan Airways, Vueling and Thomson Airways.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said, “British Airways should focus on addressing poverty pay in its mixed fleet, rather than continuing to waste hundreds of thousands of pounds on chartering in aircraft to cover striking workers.”

Passengers’ outrage at being fobbed off on cheaper operators is also damaging the firm's brand and will further dent profits.

Six MPs—five from Labour and one from the Scottish National Party—signed an early day motion last week supporting the strikes, after 200 workers lobbied parliament.

Bosses claim that the crew earn an average of £21,000 a year through salary, allowances and bonuses. But workers laugh at this figure.

Unite calculates the real figure to be £16,000, and the basic starting salary is £12,000.

Staff turnover is high, as few people stick around for more than a few years.

BA created its mixed fleet in 2010 so that new workers could be hired on much worse pay and conditions than existing staff.

Mixed fleet staff are still a minority of its cabin crew, but they represent the future that bosses want for the whole workforce—a future of low pay and grinding stress.

That makes the mixed fleet workers’ resistance a crucial fight and one for every trade unionist to back.

To send messages and donations in support of the strike, go to sites.google.com/view/mfunite/how-to-support

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