Page last updated at 19:30 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

BA Christmas strikes: Staff reaction

BA planes
British Airways will suffer huge losses this year

British Airways plans to take legal action to try to prevent cabin crew striking over the Christmas period.

BA said it has highlighted "irregularities" in the strike ballot which it believes makes the outcome of the vote invalid.

British Airways staff members have contacted the BBC News website. We hear from those who are for strike action and those who are against it.

"LOU", BA CABIN CREW

I am BA cabin crew and I am prepared to go on strike although 12 days is a long time to be on strike.

I've been through some hardship as I recently lost my father and my mother is ill. The job is stressful and you have to leave your worries at home and be constantly nice to passengers.

I am a purser which means I manage my part of the cabin. My job is under threat as BA has taken crew members off and has already removed pursers from the upper deck and now on lower deck.

Cabin crew members are capable at doing their jobs but the buck has to stop somewhere, and if supervision is taken away then what will happen if there is an emergency?

I have been working for BA for 20 years, and I have never known morale to be so low
Lou - Cabin Crew

It seems that management wants to run a premium airline on a low-cost budget.

BA's fines have run into millions in relation to price fixing, fuel, and cargo, and unfortunately it is the staff that has to suffer.

I don't think it is a coincidence that BA imposed their proposals such as the reduction of long-haul crew on 16th November. BA knew full well the union will ballot their members and that the process will take about month, and a decision to strike would be made just before Christmas.

There is little chance of career progression. I work on short-haul flights and I have been trying to get a job in long-haul for the last five years. Opportunities have significantly reduced now.

I have been working for BA for 20 years, and I have never known morale to be so low. We are all demoralised and we feel undervalued, while the fat cats get their bonuses and share options.

We are all prepared to take pay cuts but when it comes down to dismantling everything you've worked for the situation cannot continue. BA was once a prestigious place to work but it has been turned into a low cost model which is not what we're all about.

Years ago, you needed a nursing qualification and be fluent in a foreign language in order to work for BA. But now, customer service experience is low and staff only stay for a short period of time. So there is a high turn over of staff with limited experience. We are fighting not only for our future, but for new staff who are coming up.

The last thing we want to do is to go on strike, but if we give up now, the job will not be worth doing. We have to send a really clear message that we are not happy.

Lots of crew will be stuck around the world because of the strike action. But the general feeling is that for one Christmas, it will be worth it.

"DAN", BA CABIN CREW

I am part of cabin crew and I support the strike. I believe that the union's hand has been forced. British Airways have brought proposals to staff's terms and conditions for a while that include a reduction in the compliment of staff on aircraft as well as pay scales.

But I think BA imposed the changes at this time, knowing that the union would have no choice but to ballot their members immediately.

No one wants to go on strike, and I very much hope negotiations will continue and that a deal will be finalised
Dan - Cabin Crew

BA said it has imposed these changes now because of the current economic climate. BA could have said that negotiations could take place at a later date.

I do back my union, but I don't know why the strike couldn't have waited until the New Year. But if we went on strike in January, there would still be a great deal of holiday disruption.

Stories in the media have caused much anger. Our job is portrayed very differently in the media than what it really is. The changes imposed by BA are career threatening. No one wants to go on strike, and I very much hope negotiations will continue and that a deal will be finalised. But I will be very surprised if it does.

I think it is unfair to make pay comparisons with other airlines. I have heard that Virgin pay some crew £15,000 which I think is illogical. How can you live in the south of England on that salary?

I am paid around £26,000 - £27,000 before tax. The job is not just working in the Bahamas. I am away in hotels, and I think my pay reflects the time I am away from home.

Also, the job is primarily looking after on board safety. I think people are unaware that there is more to our job than just urging people to watch the safety video or wheeling a food trolley around. Our skills kick in particularly in an emergency situation, for example resuscitations or delivering babies.

"PAUL", BA GROUND CREW

I am ground staff at Heathrow working for BA. I have no sympathy for those who are going on strike.

This strike is the worst thing cabin crew can do and it will ruin thousands upon thousands of Christmases around the world.

I hope striking crew feel ashamed of what they are doing. They are undoing all the hard work we have all put in to the company.

I understand they have issues but there are different ways in dealing with them.

I really fear for the viability of the company. Things aren't great for any airline at the moment
Paul - Ground Crew

I am worried about what may happen next week. I have been working for BA for six years and I have experienced some strike action. But nothing can prepare me for what is going to happen next week. The strike will be phenomenally larger than what has ever gone on before.

There could be hundreds of thousands of people showing up at the airport, and we may not have any flights for them.

We will have to deal with the repercussions, and we are going to be slammed by upset customers.

The public doesn't differentiate between cabin crew and ground staff; all people see is the BA uniform and will group us all together.

I am upset about this - it is soul destroying. Cabin crew should take a long hard look at the decision they have made and think what will happen in the long term.

My main gripe is the timing - it is tragic. Negotiations have been going on for months. But looking at it from the public's viewpoint, the way the situation has been handled is unforgivable.

I really fear for the viability of the company. Things aren't great for any airline at the moment. This is the worse possible time to take strike action, and this has brought very bad publicity for BA.

"JANE", BA FLIGHT OPERATIONS

I am ashamed by the selfish actions of my narrow-minded, colleagues.

I am due to work just before Christmas and my family has booked flights to join me. But just one day of disruption could prevent my young family and I being together for Christmas.

The strike will cause further financial difficulties and worsen the bad situation we are already in
Jane - Flight Operations

If the strike goes ahead, then ultimately, my job and that of 40,000 BA employees will be on the line. The strike will cause further financial difficulties and worsen the bad situation we are already in.

In January, each department had to make cost savings and they came up with agreements before the summer deadline except cabin crew.

I have friends who are cabin crew and I have asked them what the issues are, but they can't tell me.

Already, there has been animosity between departments because of the proposed strike action - relations have been icy.

Flight operations have had to modernise and we have taken in effect a 5 per cent pay cut; the alternative would have been around 100 job losses.

At Gatwick, there is one less cabin crew working than at Heathrow crew, but they get on with it. And they are happy they have a job to go to.

I've worked for the airline for 15 years and I have found that cabin crew tend not to trust what management tells them. I think they have been brain-washed by the union representatives.



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