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Cabin Crew Walkout Leads to Flight Cancellations

gatwick-airport1-199x300Due to brewing discontent among the “mixed fleet” cabin crew of British Airways, a three-day walkout is being staged at Heathrow airport. While the allegations are regarding pay disparity, the British Airways have asked the agitated employees to return to the negotiations table and requested them to stop inconveniencing the passengers.

The ongoing protests and demonstrations which started on 5th February 2017 would end on 7th February 2017 and if their protests are not met even after that, the union forum of the mixed fleet flight attendants, Unite has vowed to stage another three-day walkout on February 9th, 10th and 11th as planned.

What would be your fate if your scheduled flying date coincides with any of the walkout dates?

British Airways (BA) has tried to allay fears by confirming that they have a backup contingency plan whereby only about 1% of the flights which amounts to 24 short haul flights may be partially affected. The others will fly as scheduled. Passengers of the affected BA flights would be accommodated on other flights on the same day or they may be allowed to rebook a ticket on another day of their choice at no extra cost.

The BA customer executives have already been contacting affected customers with alternative offers and options. The spokesperson for the airlines has confirmed that potentially affected customers would be allowed to fly on the same day if they intended to. They may have to fly at an earlier or later time during the day, though.

What are the allegations levelled by the mixed fleet cabin crew?

Unite has alleged that their members are the worst paid and have termed their salaries as “poverty pay.” They are discriminated against and their average salary is not more than £16000 a year. British Airways has, however, disputed the claims by saying that the average salary of the 2900-strong contingent of mixed crew flight attendants is no less than £24000. They have added that with bonus payments, the minimum salary is at least £21000.

Unite, which had acquired 800 new members since the beginning of the dispute, had earlier been invited to the negotiations table on December 22nd last year with a new pay deal which they had rejected and vowed to keep up their continued fight against this perceived injustice.

In a strike totaling 5 days in January this year, BA had been forced to cancel and reschedule scores of flights that led to customer inconvenience and a loss of revenue. Oliver Richardson, the national officer of Unite, alleged that when the airlines can “waste money” by paying for chartering the services of replacements for the striking employees, they clearly had a lot of money and should use it to address the pay-related grievances, which he said was amongst the lowest in the industry. Incidentally, the basic pay for a mixed crew flight attendant starts at £12,192. In addition, they are paid a pound per hour “flying pay” and other allowances.

However, many employees have alleged that it is grossly inadequate since rising inflation and crashing of the pound against other major currencies in the world mean that they are worth much less than they used to.

Can you claim a compensation for your inconvenience?

You won’t be able to claim compensation in this case because the airline is offering you alternative arrangements and it is not directly responsible for the disruption. However, in case your flight gets cancelled at the last moment or you miss out on a flight due to overbooking, you are definitely entitled to a full refund according to EU regulations.

One can only hope that the impasse would be resolved soon and normalcy is restored. For thousands of customers, frequent cabin crew strikes are becoming a routine nuisance. Some consumer rights protection groups have called for an early resolution of the problem and have requested both the sides to be more accommodative in their approach.

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