The BA three-day strike ends today, with claims by BA that scabbing at Heathrow enabled them to run a 60% service - a BA worker responds.
A main focus in the news is on the number of employees BA can get to cover the strike. BA has been training workers from various offices to become cabin crew, but they have only been trained to fulfil safety security and not the service side to the job. These workers may also have been working weekdays and therefore legally may not have had enough time off the cover for the whole weekend.
I talked with cabin crew over the past few days and people did say they were going to come to work today - we feel the stakes are high and many don’t have the tradition of striking. BA has threatened to take away our staff travel because it’s a non-contractual benefit, and myself and others are worried if we strike that we’ll never get promoted, or will be sacked.
No one else pays my bills, so this is a concern for me. On the other hand I am worried that if I don’t fight now it will pave the way for anything else and the Union won’t be able to fight for us in the future.
The reason for going on strike is that BA imposed changes to the number of crew without coming to an agreement.
There is also the issue that many feel this is just the beginning and if we don’t strike now our basic terms and conditions will change forever- despite assurances this will not happen.
In the pipeline BA are planning to bring in a new fleet of cabin crew who will be employed on new contracts with less money. They are already training people for this. It means that the job will totally change, with the new fleet being given a basic salary with an hourly rate, with no meal allowances. This will work out to around £800 a month. I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent on that.
In 1997 a new contract was brought in with a lower basic salary for new employees of around £11,000. This means we rely on meal allowances for our salary to be enough to live on. The meal allowance is based on the country you fly to and you bid for these flights. At the moment we get around 60% of the flights we request, but we’re worried this ‘new fleet’ will get all the good trips meaning we will be expected to live on our basic salary, or will have to sign the new contract too.
We know BA have made losses over the past two years. However, I know when the good times come again the profit won’t come to me but will go to the people at the top. We are trying to protect our basic terms and conditions. We want to sort out the strike. BA needs to negotiate and reach an agreement, instead of trying to impose.
The ‘I support the British Airways workers’ group says BA are monitoring public statements and affiliations made by employees, who face dismissal if it brings the company into disrepute. BA are trying to scare employees into not striking.
Pickets and rallies have been held in support of the crew, and international support has come from trade unions in France, Germany and the US. Show your support for the cabin crew by passing union resolutions of support, sending messages of solidarity or by joining the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=199519413962&ref=share
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