British Airways Cabin Crew Start Two Week Strike
Some Heathrow-based British Airways cabin crew have started a 16-day strike, but the airline said all booked passengers will be able to fly to their destinations.
The strike, by members of the Unite union working on short and long-haul flights at Heathrow under the airline’s ‘mixed fleet’ terms, started at 00:01 on July 1 and runs to 23:59 on Sunday July 16.
The latest in a series of stoppages is in support of a protracted pay dispute, and what the union says are threats of sanctions against striking cabin crew. The dispute has caused 26 days of strike action so far this year.
British Airways said it will operate 99.5 percent of its schedule and has “merged” a small number of Heathrow long-haul services.
The airline applied for permission from the Department for Transport to use Qatar Airways’ aircraft to fly some short-haul services from Heathrow. The government approved the request on Friday, and BA will lease nine aircraft plus crew on a temporary basis.
The Unite union fought the request claiming it breached European regulations for airlines wet leasing aircraft from outside the EU. The union also raised concerns over breaches of international labour standards and human rights by Qatar Airways.
As a result of the DOT approval, BA said it expects “to operate all short-haul flights to and from Heathrow, with our oneworld alliance partner Qatar Airways flying a small number of these services on our behalf.”
All flights to and from London Gatwick, London City and Stansted airports will operate as normal, BA said.
The 16-day strike is the longest in the escalating row over pay for the mixed fleet cabin crew. Unite maintains that “despite promises that pay would be 10 percent above the market rate, basic pay starts at just GBP£12,192 with £3 an hour flying pay.” It says the average mixed fleet crew member earns £16,000, including allowances, a year.
The union says BA has a blacklist of striking cabin crew and that they have been threatened with sanctions.
“Vindictive threats from British Airways amount to corporate bullying from an airline more interested in punishing workers on poverty pay than addressing why cabin crew have been striking,” the union’s national officer Oliver Richardson said.
“Unite believes it is tantamount to a blacklisting operation and that it is unlawful. We will fight both industrially and legally to defend our members’ fundamental human right to stand up to bullying and for decent pay.”
Richardson called on British Airways to drop the threats and resolve the long-running dispute.