Action involves Unite members in mixed fleet who have joined airline since 2010
They will walk out at Heathrow amid union claims that they are on ‘poverty pay’
Union accuses BA of threatening sanctions against those taking industrial action
Unite is pursuing legal action for 1,400 workers ‘sanctioned for striking this year
British Airways cabin crew based at Britain’s busiest airport will launch a 16-day strike from today in a long-running dispute over pay.
Members of Unite in the so-called mixed fleet – those who have joined BA since 2010 – will walk out at London Heathrow Airport.
It comes amid union claims that they are on ‘poverty pay’. Unite also accused BA of threatening sanctions against those taking industrial action. Unite claim about 1,400 staff are expected to go on strike, which is about 9 per cent of the 16,000 cabin crew employed at Heathrow – 5,500 of which are mixed fleet.
The union is already pursuing legal action on behalf of around 1,400 workers it says were sanctioned for going on strike earlier this year. Unite said its action has forced BA to cancel flights and lease aircraft from Qatar Airways.
National officer Oliver Richardson said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘That British Airways is seeking to lease aircraft from an airline found to have breached international standards on labour and human rights, is doubly shameful.
For an airline, which was once proud to call itself the “world’s favourite”, to behave in such a way and treat its staff with such contempt shows how far British Airways has fallen from grace.
‘We call on British Airways to drop the threats and drop the sanctions and resolve this long-running dispute.’
A statement said: ‘We will operate 99.5 per cent of our schedule. Our oneworld partner Qatar Airways will be operating a small number of short-haul flights on our behalf.
‘We have merged a very small number of Heathrow long-haul services and all customers affected have been notified over the past week.
‘New cabin crew in their first year working full-time at British Airways receive more than £21,000 based on pay, allowances, incentive and bonus.
‘This is in line with cabin crew at competitor airlines. We had reached a deal with Unite on pay, which the union said was acceptable. They should call off this unnecessary strike and allow their members to vote on the pay increase.’
Coby Benson, flight delay solicitor at Bott & Co, told MailOnline: ‘If a passenger’s flight is cancelled or delayed for more than three hours then they are entitled to between €250 (£219) and €600 (£527) compensation, unless the disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances: beyond the airline’s control or events that are “not inherent” in the day-to-day activity of an airline.
‘In our opinion this is not extraordinary since the events are well within British Airways’s control and the management of disgruntled staff is simply part and parcel of running any business, not least an airline.’
How will the strike affect BA passengers?
- The strike will start at 0.01am tonight and end on 11.59pm on July 16
- It will affect BA flights leaving and arriving at London Heathrow Airport
- The airline says it will be operating 99.5 per cent of its schedule and will get customers to their destinations
- Today, two round trips will be cancelled – so four flights in total
- Qatar Airways will be operating some short-haul flights on its behalf
- If a flight is cancelled or delayed for more than three hours, passengers are entitled to between €250 (£219) and €600 (£527) compensation
- Separately, airlines have also warned of ‘significant disruption’ to British passengers after the US ramped up security on flights to America