BA launches recruitment drive for lower-paid cabin crew
Loss-making British Airways has launched a recruitment drive for lower-paid cabin crew to cut costs, it announced on Thursday, just days after trade union Unite announced a fresh strike ballot.
Two weeks after the last wave of damaging industrial action, BA said it would advertise for new crew to operate a separate fleet from its current employees at London Heathrow airport, which is situated west of the capital.
The troubled group added that it could not afford to pay more than competitors for labour costs at Heathrow, or than its own staff operating from London Gatwick.
"We have suffered back-to-back record financial losses and need to continue making permanent changes to our cost base to ensure our long-term survival," a BA spokesman said.
He added: "It is common knowledge that our Heathrow cabin crew costs are way out of line with our competitors and much more than our cabin crew costs at Gatwick. We can no longer afford this cost difference.
"Alongside the changes we have already introduced, the recruitment of future cabin crew on more competitive terms and conditions is an essential part of reducing our costs.
"Starting recruitment for new crew is a step forward for the airline, which will enable us to make further improvements to customer service and position us for growth."
BA hopes to recruit 1,250 staff within one year and estimates that new staff members will account for 40 percent of its cabin crew within ten years.
Since March, BA cabin crew have staged 22 days of strikes in an increasingly bitter and drawn-out row over pay and working conditions.
Unite said earlier this week that it would hold a new ballot its 12,000 cabin crew members over further industrial action, unless there was a breakthrough with BA management by next Tuesday.
The union estimates that the industrial action has so far cost BA around 154 million pounds (187 million euros, 230 million dollars).
© 2010 AFP