British Airways cabin crew begin 16-day strike

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Unite BA strikeUnite has today accused British Airways of seeking to ‘punish’ workers on ‘poverty pay’ as mixed fleet cabin crew begin a 16-day strike.

The action is the latest in a long-running dispute involving members of British Airways’ mixed fleet cabin crew working on short and long haul flights out of Heathrow. It has  forced British Airways to cancel flights and apply for permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ‘wet lease’ nine Qatar Airways aircraft.

Unite has requested that the CAA block the move claiming it breaches European regulations for airlines ‘wet leasing’ aircraft from outside the European Union. The union has also raised concerns over breaches of international labour standards and human rights by Qatar Airways, which has reportedly told female cabin crew in the past they would be sacked if they became pregnant.

Responding to threats of sanctions against striking cabin crew, Unite warned British Airways that it would leave no legal stone unturned to defend its members in the face of the airline’s corporate bullying.

Unite  is already pursuing legal action on behalf mixed fleet cabin crew who were previously sanctioned for taking strike action in the long-running dispute over ‘poverty pay’, which has so far seen 26 days of strike action this year. Central to the claims is the accusation that British Airways has formed a blacklist to impose sanctions on striking cabin crew.

Unite 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.

“Customers will take a dim view and a great British brand risks being further tarnished. We call on British Airways to drop the threats and drop the sanctions and resolve this long-running dispute.”

Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees join what is called ‘mixed fleet’, where despite promises that pay would be 10 per cent above the market rate, basic pay starts at just £12,192 with £3 an hour flying pay. Unite estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn £16,000, including allowances, a year.

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