BA to hire lower-paid cabin crew amid dispute
London, June 24, 2010
British Airways said it planned to recruit over a thousand new cabin crew on lower wages than many existing staff to cut costs, as it faces the prospect of further strike action from existing crew in August.
BA will recruit 1,250 new crew members this year and forecast that in ten years time, staff recruited on the new terms will form 40 per cent of the overall cabin crew.
The airline said it was making the move in light of the losses it has made over the past two years.
'We have suffered back-to-back record financial losses and need to continue making permanent changes to our cost base to ensure our long-term survival,' BA said on Thursday.
Existing cabin crew members working on short-haul flights from Heathrow earn an annual salary of GBP25,700 ($38,490) while crew working on long-haul flights out of Heathrow earn an average GBP35,000. Those working on short-haul routes out of Gatwick earn GBP18,300.
A BA spokesman said the new recruits would work on a mixed fleet basis, servicing both short-haul and long-haul flights, and would earn a salary 'similar to current Gatwick crew'.
'It is common knowledge that our Heathrow cabin crew costs are way out of line with our competitors and much more than our cabin crew costs at Gatwick. We can no longer afford this cost difference,' the spokesman said.
The British airline faces a third wave of industrial action, disrupting the peak holiday season, after the Unite union said on Tuesday it would ballot its cabin-crew members in its long-running dispute with BA.
Cabin crew have walked out for 22 days so far this year, costing the airline around GBP150 million ($220 million).
Unite, which represents 90 per cent of BA's 12,000 cabin crew, said the ballot would run from June 29 to July 27, so walkouts could begin on August 3 if voted for.
The union has given BA until the start of the ballot period to demonstrate that it is willing to find a solution.
The two sides have made headway on pay and crewing levels, but Unite said it wanted the reinstatement of travel allowances removed from striking crew and the withdrawal of all disciplinary action against its members.
BA said Unite had been kept fully informed about its plans for future recruitment.
Shares in British Airways were trading down 1 per cent to 210.4 pence at 1015 GMT.
Unite could not be reached for comment. – Reuters