A leading United Kingdom union, Unite, is balloting 500 British Airways staff to launch industrial action against the airline over remaining pandemic related pay cuts.
In a statement released on Monday, the union, which has over 1.4 million members, is asking check-in staff to join the ballot in a bid to reverse a 10 per cent pay cut that was made early in 2020. The workers “are angry” because the company has already restored management’s pre-pandemic pay.
If the workers based at Heathrow Airport vote in favour of industrial action, Unite said strikes are expected to occur in July when demands for flights are set to soar.
“This is disgraceful,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.
“British Airways used the cover of COVID to brutally cut members’ pay. BA has now reversed the pay cuts imposed on management but refuses to do this for our members.
“Unite will not allow our members to be treated as a second-class workforce.”
The ballot will open on Tuesday, 7 June and is slated to close on Monday, 27 June, according to the union.
Unite the union has piled on major heat on British Airways over the duration of the pandemic for pay cuts and unfair staff redundancies.
In July 2020, Unite warned immediate strikes over the IAG-owned airline’s “fire and rehire” scheme for up to 12,000 staff on poorer terms.
While British Airways in the end slashed 10,000 jobs as a result of various deals with unions, Unite regional officer Russ Ball said they have given the airline many opportunities to negotiate the latest dispute, but it has been denied and the industrial action is a “last resort”.
“Strike action and the accompanying disruption can be avoided by BA returning to negotiations and restoring our members’ pay rates to pre-pandemic levels,” Ball said.
The union also said it is undertaking a consultative ballot over a separate group of BA check-in staff over pay issues.
According to Bloomberg, British Airways said the ballot is “extremely disappointing” and it had offered the staff participating in the vote a 10 per cent payment for this year and the next, with a commitment to hold talks next year, however, the pledge was rejected by Unite.
The airline said it hopes it will find an agreement with the union to operate scheduled flights with no disruption.
“Our members are rightly furious and ready to take action. A strike by our members will make an immediate impact on the service to customers so I urge BA to get a grip and restore these workers’ pay immediately,” continued Graham.
“Unite will be giving its members the union’s complete support until this dispute is resolved.”