July 10 (THEWILL) – British Airways (BA) management managed to beat a hasty retreat and in the meantime averted an impending horrific experience for the airline and in particular holidaymakers, who were inundated with an unprecedented number of flight cancellations, second only to the total grounding induced by COVID-19 and Omicron.
BA check-in agents, apparently front-line staff, who more than often absorb tirades from passengers, had since June agreed in principle to opt for industrial action, if the 10% pay cut at its peak of the pandemic was not cancelled.
Management, as usual, attempted demagoguery and found ways to erase the reference to cutting wages, which was quickly executed in 2020 with a threat of mass layoffs if workers refused to cooperate, during the pandemic. .
However, the grim impact of the wave of thousands of flight cancellations occasioned by a staff shortage still could not be fathomed. Given the consequences, if workers follow through on their threat to go on strike, which will add to the worsening and shameful situation at airports across Europe, particularly in the UK, BA has slowed down .
As the week drew to a close, British Airways check-in staff at Heathrow Airport announced the suspension of the much-vaunted strike, after BA management made an improved salary offer , the union said.
A statement from BA said: ‘We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the union, they have decided not to release dates for the industrial action. This is great news for our customers and our employees.
Union secretary, Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham, said: “We are pleased that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff. Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA are inevitable unless the company takes our members’ legitimate grievances seriously. I pay tribute and support our members who have fought hard to protect their wages.
By this mutual agreement, the agonizing experience of summer holidaymakers has undoubtedly been alleviated in view of the more than one hundred thousand flights already canceled at Heathrow and Gatwick airports for the month of July by BA.
GMB National Agent Nadine Houghton said: “All our members asked for was what was due to them. British Airways is finally moving on long overdue pay.
Houghton claimed that “it is very clear that workers organizing and threatening industrial action are what brought about the results”.
Nadine Houghton added that “all of our members – who are mostly low-wage women – wanted to get back the pay cuts that BA had imposed on them during the pandemic.”
With the current agreement, the already appalling state of passenger facilitation is unlikely to get any worse, but will start to see some improvement, no matter how marginal, it will be a step in the right direction.