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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

British Airways check-in staff strike suspended as company makes improved pay offer, unions say

British Airways check-in staff strike suspended as company makes improved pay offer, unions say

There were fears that the strike would have pushed the airline to cancel even more flights after cuts of 10,300 were announced yesterday, impacting services until the end of October.

British Airways (BA) workers have suspended a strike that had been planned at Heathrow during the school summer holidays after receiving a "vastly improved" pay offer from the airline.

After extensive negotiations, the Unite and GMB unions said an agreement was reached and members involved in the dispute would now vote on the proposed offer.

More than 700 check-in staff and ground-handling agents had voted for industrial action, seeking to reverse a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic when global lockdowns grounded flights.

Union sources told Sky News the deal comes close to restoring the cut and reinstates enhanced pay for specific types of shifts. Staff would also receive a one-off payment.

The airline had previously refused a return to the same compensation as before, offering a 10% one-off bonus. Unite had said this was unfair given that bosses had restored their own pay to pre-pandemic levels.

About 13,000 jobs had also been cut by BA due to COVID-19.

A BA spokesperson said the company was "very pleased" by the unions' decision not to issue strike dates, calling it "great news for our customers and our people".

'Frontline workers deserve fair pay'


Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said the airline "finally moving on pay" was "long overdue".

"It is very clear that workers organising and threatening industrial action is what has delivered," she said.

"All our members - who are predominantly low paid women - wanted was to be given back the pay cuts BA imposed on them during the pandemic, threatening them with fire and rehire if they said no.

"These are frontline workers facing anger from customers daily. The least they deserved was fair pay."

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said BA "has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff".

"Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA were inevitable unless the company took our members' legitimate grievances seriously," she said.

"I pay tribute to, and stand with, our members who have fought hard to protect their pay."

Unite regional officer Russ Ball said: "I want to salute the solidarity and bravery of our members, who, through acting in unity, have ensured that a vastly improved offer has been made."

More travel chaos averted


There were fears that the strike would have pushed the airline to cancel even more flights after cuts of 10,300 were announced yesterday, impacting services until the end of October.

BA has already scrapped 13% of its scheduled flights this summer.

Airlines have until Friday to cancel flights without risk of penalty - including the loss of take-off and landing slots - when a government amnesty is due to expire.

BA is among several companies in the aviation industry dealing with backlash from workers as soaring inflation erodes the value of their take-home pay.

EasyJet and RyanAir cabin crews in Spain are taking industrial action this month to demand wage increases.

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