The country's national carrier, British Airways, can easily afford to resolve its long-running pay dispute with its poverty pay mixed fleet cabin crew workforce, according to the country's biggest union, Unite.
The claim comes as International Airlines Group (IAG) - BA's parent company - revealed today (Friday 28 July) colossal profits of €975m for the half year to July 2017, a rise of nearly 40 per cent.
BA profits of €742 million, up nearly 20 per cent, are revealed not only against the backdrop of the dispute with the mixed fleet cabin crew, but also follow a disastrous start to the busy summer season caused by an IT failure which exposed the airline to be without a disruption plan to support passengers.
Unite has repeatedly urged the airline to address the issue of poverty pay among mixed fleet crew - whose salaries start at just over £12,000 - which has seen some turn to foodbanks and others take second jobs in order to get by.
The dispute became increasingly bitter when BA removed 'bonuses' of striking crew, a vital lifeline for the low-waged workers. In addition to this further act of financial punishment, BA cut the travel benefits on which a number of the already struggling crew relied upon in order to commute to work. Unite has vowed to challenge both these moves in court.
Commenting on the IAG's profits, Oliver Richardson, Unite national officer for civil aviation, said:
“These colossal profits confirm what we have always said; that BA can easily afford to solve this dispute.
“It is frankly obscene to keep thousands of BA's workforce on poverty pay at the same time as the company makes millions of pounds.
“The airline, seems content to spend a fortune to break the will of their own workforce, rather than resolve their concerns over fair wages and punitive sanctions.
“The City may cheer today's news but every day this dispute drags on is another day that our national carrier is associated with the bullying and intimidation of a young, lowly paid workforce. The damage that the airline's aggression towards its workforce is doing to its reputation must surely be ringing alarm bells.
“Unite says again to BA chief executive Alex Cruz, sit down with us and work this out. Quite clearly the airline can afford to settle this dispute. To fail to do so in the wake of such staggering profits is simply irresponsible.”
BA mixed fleet cabin crew end a 14-day stoppage at midnight on 1 August. Should the company fail to resolve the dispute with the Unite members, then another 14 day dispute will begin on 2 August.
For further information contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.