British Airways cabin crew based at Heathrow are to go on strike next week in a row over “poverty pay” at the airline.
About 2,500 members of BA’s mixed fleet – which is predominantly made up of younger and lower-paid cabin crew – will walkout for 48 hours from next Tuesday after the company’s latest offer was rejected.
BA said it would “plan to ensure that all our customers travel to their destinations” despite the strike, adding that it would publish details of its contingency plans on Friday. Some flights are expected to be cancelled. The mixed fleet accounts for about 15% of BA’s total cabin crew.
A two-day walkout scheduled for Christmas was suspended after talks between the Unite union and the airline.
But after the union members again rejected the offer, Unite called a strike before the mandate from a ballot expires, a deadline the union said the airline refused to extend.
Unite accused BA of “needlessly seeking conflict”. It said the airline was blocking meaningful talks and was seeking to unpick the progress made in talks at the conciliation service Acas before Christmas.
Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “British Airways is needlessly provoking strike action by refusing to extend the mandate of the strike ballot and allow meaningful talks to take place.
“Instead of listening to why its mixed fleet cabin crew rejected the offer negotiated at Acas, British Airways has sought instead to try and bully a workforce of young men and women who are trying to eke out a living on poverty pay.”
He added that the union remained hopeful that a negotiated settlement could be achieved.
A BA spokeswoman said: “We are extremely disappointed that Unite has once again chosen to target our customers.
“We are now focused on protecting our customers from this unnecessary and completely unjustified action.
“Our proposal for our mixed fleet cabin crew reflects pay awards given by other companies in the UK and will ensure their reward levels remain in line with cabin crew at our airline competitors. It is also consistent with pay deals agreed with Unite for other British Airways colleagues.”
She added that the airline was continuing its dialogue with unions and cabin crew, saying: “We remain focused on resolving this issue as quickly as possible.”
All new cabin crew at BA are recruited to the mixed fleet branch, which was set up in 2010 on lower pay and conditions than existing crew, stoking one of Britain’s most prolonged and bitter strikes of recent years.
Average pay, including allowances, is around £16,000 a year for the crew, according to Unite, a figure disputed by BA which said all were paid at least £21,000 after bonuses.
Discontent has been exacerbated by high executive pay and large profits at the airline, with its parent company, IAG, forecasting annual profits of €2.5bn (£2.3bn), largely driven by BA.
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