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Thursday, February 2, 2023

British Airways is instructed by the shadow foreign secretary to reinstate pandemic pay cuts

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David Lammy, the Tottenham-based Labour MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary apologized for “getting it wrong” when he stated that he opposed the proposed strike action by check-in staff and now demands that British Airways restore the massive salary cutbacks that it placed upon thousands of employees.

On Wednesday, Lammy said “BA must restore the pay of their loyal workforce” and urged the government to “address chronic low pay in aviation”.

Hundreds of British Airways check-in employees voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike in an effort to recoup a 10% wage cut that was imposed on them during the pandemic’s height. BA allegedly reversed bosses’ pandemic pay reductions, but not those affecting thousands of frontline workers.

But in an interview at the weekend, Lammy said he “categorically” opposed a strike because the Labour party was “serious about the business of being in Government.”

His remarks provoked an immediate condemnation from the Unite union, which not only represents some of the BA check-in personnel but also is the biggest financial supporter of the Labour party. In a “new low” for Labour, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham charged Lammy with “launching a direct attack” on BA employees.

Yesterday, Lammy said he had made a mistake. “Those of us in public life should admit our mistakes,” the lawmaker said on Twitter. “That’s why I’m apologising to all BA workers for getting it wrong on Sunday.”

Lammy claimed in a letter to constituents that when he made comments about the BA issue, he was unaware of the details and mistakenly believed the check-in personnel were requesting an inflation-busting 10% wage increase.

British Airways claims to be “dedicated” to resolving the current conflict, but the airline is standing firm in its refusal to reinstate pay reductions from the pandemic era.

Sean Doyle, the airline’s chief executive, claims that the company is preparing for a “summer of discontent” as a result of planned strikes by check-in personnel and widespread support for more significant walkouts by other workgroups.

In addition to the reinstatement of pay reductions for management-level staff, there is unease around the “excessive” compensation package for the CEO of BA’s parent company.

In addition to receiving a base salary of £820,000 before bonuses, IAG Chief Executive Luis Gallego gets paid £20,000 per month to maintain two properties in London and Madrid.

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