It’s been a good start to British Airways 2019 – the year in which the airline marks its 100th anniversary. Kicking off the celebrations with a star studded ad campaign featured luminaries of the British screen, including Olivia Colman, Gary Newman and Riz Ahmed, the airline also painted a 747 in the colours of its predecessor the British Overseas Airways Corporation.
British Airways (BA) parent company, International Consolidated Airlines Group, today (February 28) also reported a 9.8 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £2.6bn – yet the once troubled company still refuses to give its hard working staff a decent pay rise.
In light of the profits announcement, Unite issued a joint statement with the BALPA and GMB unions calling for all BA’s staff, who were crucial to turning the airline around since it ran into trouble in 2009 and suffered pay and pension cuts in the process, to share in the success.
All three unions came together to submit a joint pay claim to the airline on behalf of all BA employees, from senior management to new recruits, following a paltry one-year inflationary offer that would leave its employees with no increase in real terms.
Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said, “There should be plenty of reasons to celebrate BA’s 100th anniversary, its remarkable longevity as an airline and its more recent return to record profitability. However only the airline’s executives and shareholders will be celebrating.
“The fact is that no matter how much profit is made, BA have signalled that it currently has no intention of sharing that success with their own employees.
“It was the workers who made the major sacrifices to get the company back into shape, but now all that effort has been thrown back in their faces by the firm’s refusal to offer a decent pay rise.”
In a joint statement, Unite, BALPA and GMB pointed out that the company’s extraordinary transformation – from a £230m loss-making airline in 2009 to a profit-making powerhouse in 2018 – is due in large measure to the outstanding contribution of BA employees.
“By ensuring that service to its customers remained world class – despite difficult changes, pay cuts and sacrifices made in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, including the voluntary closure of their final salary pension scheme – BA staff made these exceptional results possible,” the statement said.
“Cabin crew, pilots, engineers, terminal workers, office staff and managers are the backbone of BA’s powerful premium brand. In the bad times, they have given. Now that times are good, that loyalty needs to be repaid.”
The unions added that the firm’s inadequate pay offer is “an insult to that sacrifice”.
“British Airways is now in danger of losing the support of its own staff support and damaging its brand in this important centenary year,” the unions said.
“BA must end its austerity approach to pay negotiations, re-connect with its employees and deliver a pay deal that properly reflects its record-breaking profits.”
All of BA’s 25,000 strong union membership are being balloted on this offer and all three unions have strongly recommended rejection. The joint unions are seeking an improved three-year deal with enhanced profit-sharing and the re-introduction of an employee share ownership scheme.
The unions warned that negotiations are now at a critical stage if an industrial dispute is to be avoided.
*Main pic from earlier dispute