Going on holiday for Christmas; the thought is nice, almost magical, as you picture yourself lapping up a little bit of luxury as you demolish your turkey and open your presents. But the unfortunate reality is that Christmas travel can be somewhat of a nightmare, with probably a 90% chance of SOMETHING not going as planned. Whether it be a major rush around any available shop because you’ve left your ALL of your Christmas presents as home, a cancelled train due to snow (or just bad weather in general), a non-existent bus timetable or a Christmas Eve traffic jam longer than the Great Wall of China, we’ve all been there and it isn’t fun. To add to this year’s stress for anyone that is flying abroad during the holidays, staff major airline British Airways have decided that Christmas would be a great time to go on strike, hence leaving a lot of Christmas holidaymakers unsure of whether or not their plans are going to be scuppered, ruining Christmas in true Grinch style.
The worry is not as big as we first thought and British Airways have recently announced that despite strikes, their full schedule of flights will run both on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, getting travellers to where they need to be in time to celebrate the holidays, a mince pie and mulled wine in each hand. It seems there really were some true scrooges that called the strike in the first place as chief executive of British Airways has called the debacle an ‘attempt to ruin Christmas for thousands of customers.’ And whilst the strike is due to go ahead Alex Cruz and his team have been putting together a contingency plan to ensure that their flights will go ahead as scheduled, despite the disruption.
So who is striking? And why would they attempt to ‘ruin Christmas’? The staff are from mixed fleet which means that they fly a combination of long haul and short haul destinations and have decided to go on strike mainly over the issue of pay, which is apparently so bad that it has been affectionately nicknamed as ‘poverty pay.’ As most of the mixed fleet staff are new, they are arguing that their pay is significantly worse than longer serving cabin crew. Speaking of the conditions in which they are forced to work, their unio0n, ‘Unite’ has spoken of how they are expected to work even when deemed as unfit to fly and in the process are earning as little as £3 per hour in flight allowances. Then average advertised wage of current British Airways mixed fleet staff stands between £21, 000 and £27, 000 per year but in reality the pay starts at as little as £12,000. Unite are working together with the staff to ultimately improve this. Mr Cruz has agreed to talk with Unite to see how the situation can be resolved and they are said to be delighted at the progress. They continue to insist that their calls for equal pay and fairness in the workplace must be heard.
The planned strikes for the airline have now been called off completely and the 4,500 staff are represented by Unite will now not be walking as they are being presented a new offer which will be put to a ballot of union members. Although it have not yet been revealed what this new offer is, the union seem satisfied that it is enough to stop their 2,700+ members striking over Christmas and is in fact, a better way to ensure that their concerns are met by British Airways. Whilst BA are relieved that the strikes threatening to disrupt Christmas and Boxing Day have been called off, Unite have praised the determination of their union members in trying to make a better working life for both themselves and their colleagues. Only time will tell if BA has done enough to meet the needs of their concerned workers, with an 80% vote in favour of strike action over the Christmas period. It seems all of those flying over the Christmas period will get to their destinations safe and sound after all….but watch out for other strike action making sure that Christmas doesn’t run TOO smoothly, including Southern Rail and the Post Office. Merry Christmas everyone.