British Airways cabin crew vote for 12-day strike from December 22

14 Dec 2009 by Tom Otley

British Airways staff have voted to strike. The strike will affect over 1 million passengers if it goes ahead, and will last 12 consecutive days from December 22. The Unite Union said that the "Decision was taken to maximise the impact"

The Union, Unite, represents around 12,500 out of the 14,000 cabin crew said that it had an 80 per cent turn out, of whom 92.5 per cent voted for strike (so around 66% of total cabin crew).

Meanwhile BA has come out fighting giving details of the package to all staff, the background to the dispute and even details of the typical salaries and allowances for various categories of BA staff. The airline says that "CAA figures comparing cabin crew costs for 10 UK airlines show that BA crew are easily the most expensive, costing twice as much as their Virgin Atlantic counterparts."

The airline says that the package includes:

  • acceptance of requests to work part-time from more than 3,000 crew
  • a pay rise of between two and seven per cent this year, and again in 2010, for 75 per cent of crew
  • protection of average allowances
  • opportunity to earn shares and better staff travel benefits
  • no reductions in individual terms and conditions

To accommodate the requests for part-time working and voluntary redundancy, a modest reduction in onboard crew numbers was introduced from November 16. On the vast majority of flights, numbers are being reduced by one. These are new crewing levels."

At the heart of the dispute is whether the new requirements on staff constitue "new contracts". Unite says they do, BA says they do not. BA says that its package for cabin crew involves "minor changes in onboard crew numbers at Heathrow – typically a reduction of one, with crew managers (Cabin Service Directors) taking a bigger role in customer-facing duties to ensure service levels are maintained."

"The new Heathrow crewing levels are the same as have operated on equivalent British Airways flights from Gatwick for years, with Unite’s agreement. These are new crewing levels at Heathrow. They are not new contracts."

In addition, BA says that the Unite ballot form did not identify any specific grievance, and has published its cabin crew earnings.

For Heathrow long haul this is that a Cabin Services Director earns £38,006 but with allowances this rises to "Total Earnings" of £56,325.

Annual leave is 31-37 days for Heathrow shorthaul crew and 30-36 days for longhaul. For Gatwick crew, it is 28 days. 

In addition, it has published its cabin crew allowances from Heathrow, October 2009. These show that a crew member working Heathrow-Tokyo-Heathrow will receive allowances of £935 for the four-day trip. A six-day return to Shanghai pays £866, five days to Hong Kong £798 and five days to Rio £731. These allowances exclude hotel costs.

Meanwhile, Easyjet has offered free Speedy Boarding on its flights during the strike for BA Executive Club Gold Card Holders, though not their families/ travelling companions. 

A forum string has been created by one of our readers to discuss the implications of the strike at:

And BA has a page for those wishing to rebook

It says "Customers who are booked to travel between 22 December 2009 and 2 January 2009 and for 48 hours on either side of those dates who would like to take their flight at a different time can change to another BA flight departing in the next twelve months at no charge. 

If a customer’s flight is cancelled because of industrial action, we will offer them the option to refund their ticket, rebook on to a different flight or reroute their journey on another BA flight."

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