British Airways Seeks to Avoid Mass Industrial Action

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British Airways Seeks to Avoid Mass Industrial Action.

Pay negotiations between British Airways and three unions that represent pilots, cabin crew and ground staff have been dragging on for around eight months now. In a “final position” document, the Heathrow-based airline is now hoping it has come up with a deal that will appease the unions according to documents released by the Unite trade union.

In December 2018, the three unions – Unite, BALPA and GMB – who represent cabin crew, pilots and ground staff respectively, clubbed together for a joint pay claim and improved working conditions. The process seems to have dragged on for quite some time and during the last few months, the unions have warned they would consider strike action if BA failed to put an acceptable deal on the table.

In fact, only last week, the BALPA union decided to initiate a strike ballot, although the results of that vote aren’t expected for a couple of weeks and it’s not known whether this latest offer will be considered by pilots before any industrial action could take place.

Photo Credit: British Airways
Photo Credit: British Airways
The situation for cabin crew is looking a lot more promising, with the Unite union telling its members yesterday:

“After eight months of very difficult negotiations with British Airways, Unite can now announce that we have been able to secure what we believe to be a much-improved offer.”

In short, the deal would include:

A pay rise totalling 11.5% on base pay spread over three years
A one-off bonus of at least £750
Introduction of a “Gain Share” bonus scheme that would reward staff for delivering on efficiency savings
An improved bonus scheme that would up payments to 5% of annual base pay
In addition, staffers with at least 30 years of service would get two lounge access passes.

Previously, the unions rejected BA’s offer because it imposed non-specific “efficiency savings” without any kind of reward. The new deal includes a way for staff to potentially earn more money but they might have to do more work with less support going forward.

As before, British Airways has refused to discuss a “share save” scheme whereby staffers could be awarded with shares in the airline – BA says this is an issue that can only be discussed with the parent company IAG.

Clearly, it looks like the union thinks this is a much better deal than the others presented by British Airways, although this is not yet a done deal. According to Unite, the deal will go to a member vote and there’s no way of telling if cabin crew will still reject it. The same deal is being offered to pilots and ground staff, and again there’s just no way of knowing yet what the outcome will be.

Despite posting very positive financial results for 2018, British Airways has warned this year will be tough and therefore financial discipline is more important than ever. At the same time, unions say it’s been the hard work of frontline staff that has pushed British Airways to record profits and they deserve a financial reward for this effort.

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