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The lower pay of new entrants is good for the bottom line, but the extremes create classes of haves and have nots in a company, and that’s not good for corporate culture.
British Airways is facing the threat of renewed strikes after cabin crew said they are prepared to take industrial action after their pay claims were rebuffed.
In a consultative ballot last week among members of the mixed fleet, 95% of crew who voted said they would strike. About a third of the eligible crew voted in the ballot, taken to gauge feeling in a fleet which rapidly unionised under Unite in 2012.
The mixed fleet is a predominantly younger crew, employed under inferior terms and conditions to existing crew. The fleet was set up in 2010 during the last wave of bitter industrial action at the airline, when cost-cutting measures led to 22 days of walkouts. Willie Walsh, the then BA boss and now chief executive of parent company IAG, argued that traditional airlines needed to cut costs to survive, and has since pushed through thousands of job losses and salary cuts at BA’s sister airline Iberia in Spain.
But the new BA recruits have been angered by schedules and salaries that see them earn less money than counterparts at low-cost competitors EasyJet and Ryanair. Unions claim many BA cabin crew are now reliant on working tax credits to supplement basic salaries, believed to be a little over £12,000 a year, although the airline says earnings should reach around £20,000 with full-flying rosters.
BA has offered a pay rise in line with inflation to other cabin crew on pre-2010 contracts, who work exclusively either long-haul or short-haul in the worldwide or European fleets. The new flexible crew had been hoping to close the wage gap with their better-paid colleagues and counterparts, but have made no progress. Anger has been further stirred among employees by news that Walsh took home £5m in 2013, a pay rise of 400% on the previous year, while BA boss Keith Williams was also paid £3m.
Holidaymakers heading to France also face travel disruption this week, as two French air traffic controller unions begin a six-day walkout. The SNCTA and Unsa-ICNA unions announced last Friday that the strike will begin on 24 June. Travellers have been warned to expect heavy disruption during the period, with officials aiming to run at least 50% of scheduled flights.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk