November 29, 2023

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British Airways Reverses Wage Cut, Averts Workers Strike

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Mr Sean Doyle, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, British Airways, assumed office on 12th October 2020

The management of British Airways, BA, has succeeded in beating a hasty retreat and in the interim, averted an imminent gruesome experience for the airline and especially holidaymakers who have been inundated with an unprecedented number of flight cancellations second only to the total grounding induced by COVID-19 and Omicron.

BA’s check-in workers, ostensibly the frontline staff who more than often absorb the tirades from passengers, had since June agreed in principle to opt for industrial action if the 10% wage cut during the height of the pandemic is not reversed.

The Management, as usual, attempted a grandstanding and schemed up ways to expunge reference to the wage cut which was quickly executed in 2020 with a threat of mass sack if workers refused to cooperate, during the pandemic.

Seemed the BA management forgot to pick the dictum among the Yoruba nation she has been serving in Nigeria for over a century which says, “the masquerade festival which usually has a beginning, by nature’s law also has an end”.

Heathrow airport boarding hall 2, filled to the seams with backlog of victims of BA cancelled flights

However, the grim impact of the spate of thousands of flight cancellations occasioned by a shortage of staff could still not be fathomed. In consideration of the consequence should the workers make good their threat to embark on strike, which will exacerbate the worsening and shameful situation in airports across Europe, especially in the UK, BA soft pedal.

Albeit, as the week was about to run out, the British Airways check-in staff at the Heathrow airport announced the suspension of the much-touted strike after BA management made an improved pay offer, the union said.

A BA statement said: “We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the union, they have decided not to issue dates for industrial action. This is great news for our customers and our people.”

The union scribe, 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 take our members’ legitimate grievances seriously. I pay tribute to, and stand with, our members who have fought hard to protect their pay.”

By this mutual agreement, the agonizing experience of summer holidaymakers has no doubt been mitigated in the light of over a hundred thousand flights already cancelled at Heathrow and Gatwick airports for the month of July by BA.

Managing Director, Finchglow, Mr Bernard Bankole, receiving from BA representative, Best Seller Award, 2022

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: “All our members were asking for was what they were owed. British Airways finally moving on pay is long overdue”.

Houghton affirmed that “it is very clear that workers organizing and threatening industrial action is what has delivered”.

Nadine Houghton further said, “all our members – who are predominantly low-paid women – wanted was to be given back the pay cuts BA imposed on them during the pandemic”.

With the current agreement, the already appalling condition of passenger facilitation will likely not be worsened but begin to experience an improvement no matter how marginal, this will be a march in the right direction.

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