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British Airways workers secure major pay increase following fire and rehire strategy

Around 24,000 UK British Airways (BA) staff have secured a 13.1% pay rise over an 18-month period, together with a £1,000 one-off payment.

Unite has also agreed a potential option for salaries to increase further if inflation remains high - inflation is currently at 7.9%, well above the Bank of England's target of 2%. 

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This pay deal will recoup pay cuts made during the pandemic, when BA planned to ‘fire and rehire’ staff on different terms and lower pay.  

The scheme was called off following a nine-day strike over the Christmas period in 2021.  

Unite national co-ordinating officer, Oliver Richardson said this had a long term impact on industrial relations at BA.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Fire and rehire is both an appalling way to treat workers and a wholly destructive approach to managing industrial relations.

"Whilst Unite at the time was able to mitigate some of the most extreme proposals, it left a legacy of soured union relations and broken employee engagement within BA.

"The deal that has been brokered should draw a line under this sorry episode in relation to pay reductions, and will hopefully pave the way for workers and their unions to be treated more fairly and decently in the future.”

Also in the travel sector, pilots at Virgin Atlantic airline have registered a trade dispute and are considering striking.

The group’s union BALPA said 96% of Virgin Atlantic pilots supported a ballot on industrial action. 

The pilots are disputing scheduling arrangements put in place during the pandemic which they said have caused fatigue and wellbeing concerns. The scheduling measures are due to expire in December. 

Virgin said it was willing to negotiate with BALPA. 

Speaking to HR magazine, a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said: "We currently have an existing pay and lifestyle agreement in place until the end of 2023, that was agreed, developed and supported by BALPA’s pilot representatives within Virgin Atlantic, and our pilot community.  

We continue to honour all agreements and have offered to enter formal pay and lifestyle negotiations with BALPA's pilot union representatives in the coming weeks, well in advance of the agreement expiring in December."