Striking members of British Airways’ mixed fleet cabin crew today (July 5) protested outside the headquarters of Qatar Airways as Unite announced it had launched legal action over the ‘wet leasing’ of Qatar Airways aircraft by British Airways.
Unite is challenging the government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the ‘wet lease’ of nine Airbus aircraft by British Airways to cover a 16-day cabin crew strike, claiming it breaches European regulations.
The legal action comes amid strong support for the strike over pay and the sanctioning of striking workers which runs until 23:59 on Sunday July 16.
The use of Qatar Airways’ aircraft and cabin crew has also led to Unite accusing British Airways of being in breach of its own corporate social responsibility policy and it not being ‘worth the paper it’s written on’.
Qatar Airways has been found in the past to be guilty of systemic workplace sex discrimination, which included female cabin crew being automatically sacked when becoming pregnant, as well as prohibiting women from being dropped off or picked up from work by a man other than their husband, father or brother.
Commenting Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said, “Unite is challenging the government’s decision to approve British Airways use of Qatar Airways aircraft. The ‘wet leasing’ of Qatar Airways’ aircraft should not have been approved by the government or been sought by British Airways.
“We believe it is not only in breach of European regulations and non-compliant with civil aviation safety, but has also driven a coach and horses through British Airways’ own corporate social responsibility policy, which is not worth the paper it’s written on.
“British Airways customers will be alarmed at Qatar Airways’ record on sex discrimination and the lengths British Airways is going to try an undermine lawful strike action.
“The time and money British Airways has spent on wet leasing aircraft and bullying striking cabin crew are resources which could have easily settled this dispute.
“The world is watching an airline that once prided itself as the world’s favourite, becoming associated with inequality, bullying and downright vindictiveness.
“It’s high time British Airways stopped spending millions defending low pay and its bullying approach by negotiating a settlement to this long running dispute.”