Reply To: Unite/BASSA to Strike 20/3 for 3 Days, 27/3 for 4 Days

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If the situation you describe above, marky, is that bad, and if better terms and conditions and pay were available elsewhere, then from a cabin crew member’s perspective the right thing to do would be to look for a job elsewhere.

Alas, in BA crew’s case, there are no better packages for the same work on offer for the majority of staff, and especially the most senior ones who have the most to lose from these new T&Cs/losing their “most profitable” routes.

Sadly it is in many cases these senior BA cabin crew who are asking those lower in the ranks to strike effectively on their behalf and possibly lose staff travel, to preserve their own seniority based benefits.

Existing staff are simply being asked to work in a different way, not to take a pay cut (it is BASSA/Unite which is suggesting a cabin crew pay cut, not BA Management, who rejected this suggestion).

New staff will work under new fleet T&Cs; better I think you will agree than closing down the whole shorthaul operation to be restarted by FlyBe or Easyjet, without TUPE or other protections, which is what will certainly happen if these changes are not made.

And it’s absolutely right that newly hired people are paid the current going market rate for the work they do. I expect them to be better remunerated and have marginally better working conditions than those of a low cost carrier.

BUT frankly, as a customer, and from the perspective of corporate travel policies, that is irrelevant.

Travelling has become commoditised and most peoples’ and companies’ primary concern, now more than ever, is keeping costs low.

If that means lower pay, then unfortunately, that is the way the market will determine salaries.

The oil price also plays a part and also this pressure on costs is caused by the excessive APD taxes which Gordon Brown has introduced and imposed on the flying public, which are out of all proportion to any environmental impact, and specifically penalise premium business class travellers.

A decent seat which converts into a bed and more pleasant cabin environment, coupled with proper IFE, means the individual influence of crewmembers, while still important, is not as important as it was twenty/thirty years ago when many of these T&Cs were first established in the days of more lavish food service, technical delays, and little else to pass the time other than visiting the bar and eating.

I have been perfectly happy with Easyjet crewmembers on my three flights with that airline; no noticeable diminution in service vs. shorthaul BA crews IMHO, so I just don’t buy the argument that lower pay = dreadful service.

BA’s Gatwick crews who you believe to be “underpaid and overworked” are some of the best in my experience.

If BA employees have a gripe about creating a new low pay structure, they should ask their Union reps to lobby Unite for the Government to change its APD policy (another huge rise is planned for November 2010) and give some of that money back to those who work for BA.

But I doubt Unite will be highlighting that issue with the current government, seeing as Jack Dromey ( Dep Sec. Transport and Gen. Workers Union) is married to Harriet Harman, Dep Labour Leader.

The odious Charlie Whelan is Unite’s Political Secretary, and also Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s right hand man.

Thankfully, Lord Adonis has his head screwed on correctly and has called out the Emperor’s New Clothes which BASSA/Unite are pushing.

BA crewmembers are some of the best in the business, and work very hard.

But they are not irreplaceable.

Crew have been duped into a false sense of entitlement by BASSA/Unite which, largely in the interests of its most senior and long serving cabin crew members, is endangering the livelihoods, salaries and non-contractual travel perks of more junior staff.

As anyone who has had friends or colleagues made redundant in the past year knows, Unite’s intransigent approach is entirely out of step with current economic reality.

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