Holidaymakers could face travel chaos this summer as 3,000 British Airways staff vote to strike over pay and in more bad news for the troubled airline the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) will announce, later this week the results of its ballot on the issue with a further 8,000 BA staff.
The majority vote won last week, as 53% of GMB union members voted to strike over pay. Check-in staff working at Heathrow and Gatwick turned down a three-year pay offer of 8.5 per cent or 10.5 per cent if it doesn’t count towards pension.
The dispute has highlighted the disparity in pay between staff and boardroom members. While check-in staff earn a basic salary of £12,500 per year with baggage handlers on about £14,000 a year, BA have awarded its chief executive a 5.6 per cent pay rise.
Alan Black, GMB’s national officer for civil aviation said: “Our demands are not great. After all, our members’ pay is not great, by any stretch of the boardroom imagination – £12,500 basic for check-in staff, may of them women balancing a stressful service job with caring commitments at home. [It] is not a lot when you consider that some in the BA boardroom are rubbing their hands over half a million pounds a year.”
Further anger was felt about the timings of the action: “We ask British Airways, why is it talks begun in the cool of January have been allowed to drag on into the heat of August and the peak holiday season?” commented Black.
BA says it believes the pay offer to be fair and reasonable given the challenges faced by the company.
TGWU, however, refute claims that cash is a problem.
Brendan Gold, TGWU’s national officer said: “Profits are up, employee costs are down and will continue to fall as our people accept and adapt to new situations. Their contribution must be recognised.”