British Airways cabin crew have voted in favour of four more days of strike action in what is the latest in a long-running pay and benefits row.
The strike will start from the 16th of June and will run for 4 days, even though BA say that the crew’s pay and rewards are in line with competitors. Unite, the union which manage BA’s cabin crew said that the action is about benefits not being reinstated for crew which took part in earlier industrial action.
The airline has called the new strike “completely unnecessary”, and has promised customers that there will be no flight cancellations during the strike period, and that they’ll do their best to ensure that there’s minimal disruption for customers.
The news comes at a potentially awkward time for British Airways, during a week when they’re still recovering from an IT failure which caused 75,000 customers to be stranded at airports for days.
Having initially refused to comment about the nature of the IT failure, British Airways recently moved to suggest that the IT failure was down to a “power surge”, which was promptly shot down by IT experts, who suggested that a power surge couldn’t do that kind of damage. Those statements were affirmed by local power companies, who confirmed that no surge had been detected at the time BA said it happened.
Now, The Times have learned that the power supply unit at the centre of the BA fiasco was in perfect working order, but was deliberately shut down by a contractor who made a catastrophic blunder, which wiped over £100m off the value of their parent company and will cost BA another £100m in compensation.
Evidently then, British Airways see this as an inopportune moment for their cabin crew to strike, with a British Airways spokeswoman saying: “We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite’s national officers agreed was acceptable. We urge Unite to put the pay proposals to a vote of their members.”
Howard Beckett, Unite’s assistant general secretary for legal services, stressed the lack of respect BA has shown its staff by not reinstating the benefits of those who chose to strike. He said: “In an airline of the size and status of BA, passengers want to know staff are treated with respect.
“Punishing staff for using legitimate industrial means to reach a wage deal is a culture that Unite cannot accept and a culture that will ultimately damage the BA brand.”
Thus far, members who are on the airline’s mixed-fleet agreement have staged 26 days of strikes during the disagreement. Unite claim there are around 2,900 cabin crew members on mixed-fleet agreements, which operate on both short and long-haul agreements.
Where the disagreement will go next is anyone’s guess, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see BA move to neutralise this latest scandal in a bid to stem the continued damage to their reputation with British and overseas customers.