Unite Union Could Be Planning British Airways Cabin Crew Strikes

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The Unite Union is reportedly exploring the idea of industrial action from its British Airways cabin crew. British Airways is currently in a period of consultation regarding its future, given the current aviation situation. However, many are unhappy with the proposals that British Airways is putting forwards.

British Airways, Unite Union, Cabin Crew Strike
The Unite Union has threatened a cabin crew strike at British Airways. Photo: British Airways

British Airways isn’t alone in being affected by the current situation. In fact, across the industry, airlines are considering staff cuts, both temporary and permanent, to deal with the situation. Lufthansa, for example, was mooting cutting around 26,000 jobs across its businesses. Towards the start of the crisis, British Airways revealed that it might need to cut up to 12,000 positions in the worst-case scenario.

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Strike action

The Unite Union isn’t particularly happy with the proceedings being undertaken by British Airways, with heated exchanges being passed between the union and the airline. However, progress between the two has been hard. Both the Unite and GMB unions had failed to attend 500 meetings with the British flag carrier over the consultations.

Now, the Unite Union is considering strike action according to Head For Points. The publication earlier shared an email from the union’s general secretary, Len McCluskey. The email, addressed to British Airways CEO Alex Cruz, ends,

“You have now published a timetable to Fire and Rehire thousands of your workforce on 7 August, we will work every hour between now and then, to convince you not to do so. You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect.”

British Airways, Unite Union, Cabin Crew Strike
The Unite Union’s secretary-general suggested the union will move towards industrial action with immediate effect. Photo: British Airways

Meanwhile, a British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying,

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This is the biggest challenge the airline and our industry has ever faced. Sadly, the global pandemic has resulted in job losses across every industry. Many airlines have already made thousands of staff redundant. 

“We are not immune to this crisis. We have to adapt to survive, so we will continue with the proper, lawful consultative process and we will keep inviting union representatives to discuss our proposals to the serious challenges we face. It is not too late to find solutions – as we have done with BALPA – and to protect jobs.​”

In Late June, Simple Flying revealed that British Airways was proposing that under new pay deals, no employee would see their salaries fall by more than 20%.

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British Airways, Unite Union, Cabin Crew Strike
British Airways has previously told its staff that no staff would see their pay cut by more than 20%. Photo: British Airways

Not British Airways’ first strike

The threat of strike action from the Unite union isn’t the only one with which British Airways has had to deal with recently. Indeed, around a year ago, BALPA, the British Airline Pilots Union, was balloting its members over strike action.

The ballot passed, with several days of strike action being announced. In the end, however, only two days of strike action were carried out. As British Airways was unable to see what percentage of each pilot pool would be striking, almost all services on September 9th and 10th were canceled.

At one point, there was not a single British Airways flight in the skies. At the time, this was seen as exceptional. However, many more airlines have seen more aircraft grounded due to the current pandemic.

What do you think of the letter threatening strike action? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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