BA cabin crew video sets out strike case

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The Independent Online

The union representing British Airways cabin crew released a video today to counter "gross misrepresentations" over issues at the heart of a dispute which threatens industrial action.

Unite said low wages, reliance on tax credit top-ups and the distress of being forced to deliver a poorer service to passengers were the real reasons behind the row.

Thousands of Unite members are voting on whether to go on strike over jobs, pay and working conditions, with the result due on February 22.

The union will have to give seven days notice of any action, raising the threat of a walkout from March 1, although strikes over Easter have been ruled out.

According to Unite, three out of four cabin crew earn less than £20,000 per year, with some staff at Gatwick airport having to rely on second jobs or working family tax credits to top up their earnings.

One worker speaking on the video said: "I take home around £1,100 a month and I'm still entitled to working tax credits because we're classified as low paid workers, and that's common among most of the main crew at Gatwick. Many of us have two jobs in order to pay our bills - often in bars and restaurants - to make ends meet."

Workers also claimed that the cut in cabin crew numbers at the end of last year was having a "terrible" impact on service to passengers.

Len McCluskey, Unite's assistant general secretary, said: "For those who want to understand the truth behind this dispute, this film shows why crew have been driven to consider industrial action for the second time in as many months.

"Low wages, the stress of working under imposed changes and the distress of cutting corners on passenger service have pushed them to this point.

"These are dedicated professionals, men and women who care for their company and want it to succeed. Most employers would give their proverbial right arm to have a staff resource of this quality and commitment, not trash it through distortion."

The cabin crew voted 9-1 in favour of action last year and were due to launch a 12-day strike over Christmas before BA took legal action to stop the walkout.