Friday, 21 May 2010

'Our turn to fly', say BA strikers

British Airways staff are set to strike over a number of grievances after a panel of judges overturned a ban on industrial action yesterday.

Unite leader Derek Simpson said the union would not rest until every demand had been met. “All we want is decent working hours and the best possible conditions for our staff,” he said.

But staff say the best possible conditions involve allowing for more diversity in their roles, and that’s where BA disagrees.

Allowing groundcrew to fly aircraft has not worked for BA in the past.

Aircraft cabin cleaner Mavis Beacon is planning strike action because she’s tired of cleaning and wants to switch to flying for a bit. “All them pilots get to drive the planes to all these places and I’m stuck cleaning them. I’m sick of being left behind with my mop and bucket. Let someone else fly the plane for once.”

BA call centre telephonist Walter Dyer agrees. “Pilots get paid loads and I’m on £6.75 an hour,” he said. “I work just as hard as them and the disparity is just not fair.” Dyer disagrees that experience is necessary for flying aircraft. “I learned how to work a switchboard pretty quick, all those cockpit buttons and controls shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

BA spokesperson Clarence Ouver said these requests are “just not viable”, citing the disastrous strike negotiations 13 years ago. After weeks of talks in May 1997, BA agreed to let luggage handlers fly a number of 747 jets on a trial basis. Each of the 15 airliners crashed, resulting in 3496 deaths. “We lost a lot of money and all the families of the dead complained. We won’t be making that mistake again,” Ouver says.

Instead, BA is calling for anyone with flight experience to apply for a role at the aeronautics giant. BA representatives are trawling rest homes, hoping to find World War II pilots willing to do a few runs. They would also like to hear from anyone who has ever been in a flight simulator, or watched Die Hard 2 more than four times.

“We’re going to stay in the air – no matter what,” Ouver said. BA strikes are scheduled to begin on Monday.

No comments:

Post a Comment