The Economist: “British Airways crew walk out over “poverty” pay”

British Airways mixed fleet crew begun their strike yesterday and will continue it today. The previous strike during Christmas time was canceled while union members went through BA’s proposal.

The Economist British Airways crew walk out over “poverty” pay

The Economist ran a piece the other day about the poor pay that British Airways has paid their mixed fleet crew, that truly is at poverty level if someone is supposed to live in London.

You can access the piece here of which below is an excerpt:

Having rejected that offer by a 7-1 margin, the strikes will now occur on 10th and 11th January. BA says the impact will be minimal, with 85% of cabin crew reporting for duty and just 12 return flights being cancelled each day. Passengers due to travel on those affected flights, which all leave from London Heathrow Airport, will be rebooked onto alternative services.

This is not the first time BA cabin crew have called industrial action. In 2010, a series of strikes caused 22 days of travel chaos. Then, cabin crew were angry about staffing cutbacks and the introduction of new contracts, dubbed “mixed-fleet” contracts, which offered inferior terms for new employees. Today, it is the turn of those new staff to rebel. The Unite union, which represents many of them, claims that average pay in the mixed fleet is £16,000 ($19,500) per year. BA disputes the figure, insisting that no-one receives less than £21,000 per year.


British Airways hasn’t published a list of affected flights (guess that they don’t want flying public to know the exact number) but they have brought Vueling (part of IAG) and Titan (third party operator) to fly certain flights on BA’s behalf.

The airline has also used crews from other bases and trained management employees to work on flights otherwise flown by the mixed fleet. As a result, the airline has only canceled a few flights.

There is a discrepancy about the minimum pay between BA and the Union. BA claims that no one earns less than 21K GBP per year while according to the Union it is much less. Could be that BA counts the hourly pay for the time spent on the trip that is supposed to be used for meals and other expenses.

It is truly confusing how British Airways basically operates four separate fleets; Worldwide is the well paid one based in Heathrow that BA tried to undermine by introducing this mixed fleet (much lower pay and benefits) that is now striking. There is also Euro-Fleet and one more based in Gatwick.

I believe that it is in the best interest of the company in whatever industry that they pay employees well. Turnover is much lower and employees are happy. This in turn affects service delivery in a positive way.

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