After lengthy negotiations on Wednesday, British Airways workers announced on Thursday that they had suspended a strike that was planned at Heathrow during the school summer travel rush. British Airways was thrust into turmoil as flights slowly ramped up to the usual summer rush, but one thing was different, the amount of money British Airway workers were paid.
Pay cuts were imposed during the pandemic when global lockdowns grounded flights. However, as flights resumed to a somewhat regular schedule, British Airways workers fell through the cracks, still receiving their 10% pay cuts. The airline had previously refused a return to the same compensation as before, offering a 10% one-off bonus. However, unions called out leaders of companies after citing that they restored their own salaries to the same as they were pre-pandemic.
As animosity fueled rage, over 700 check-in staff and ground-handling agents voted in favor of industrial action, demanding the reversal of the pay cuts. Fortunately for British Airways, the union, Unite, said both parties had reached a deal over a “vastly” improved pay offer. The Unite and GMB unions told Sky News the deal is close to restoring the cut and reinstating enhanced pay for specific shifts. Staff would also receive a one-off payment.
The pay offer will now go to union members for a ballot; the promising quotes from Union officers make the agreement seem extremely promising. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We welcome that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff. Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA were inevitable unless the company took our members’ legitimate grievances seriously. I pay tribute to, and stand with, our members who have fought hard to protect their pay.“
This negotiation victory is a big win for Airline Unions throughout Europe. Unions in Europe don’t abide by a contract which seems to be a contributing factor as to why British Airways could act as unfavorable as they did in the first place. Alternatively, after receiving what some would consider the proper amount of backlash, British Airways said in an emailed statement, “We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the unions, they have decided not to issue dates for industrial action.”