Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We're Not out to Ruin Christmas. All We Want Is a Fair Basic Salary'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We're Not out to Ruin Christmas. All We Want Is a Fair Basic Salary'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

BRITISH AIRWAYS cabin crew today defended their decision to walk out during the Christmas period -- in the face of growing anger from passengers and politicians.

John, 46, who has worked for BA as cabin crew for the past 14 years and lives in south London, told the Standard that the portrayal of staff as overpaid Christmas-wreckers was unfair, and the strike was justified.

He said many cabin crew had run out of patience after years of pay freezes and cutbacks in working conditions.

He said: "At the moment, to the general public, we are just ruining everyone's Christmas like a lot of humbug Scrooges. But the truth is, on my basic of [pounds sterling]13,500, I am struggling to feed my family.

"Yes we get allowances when we are away, I can get anything between [pounds sterling]200 to [pounds sterling]900 a month. But if you go to a bank and say, 'I want a mortgage', they will just look at the [pounds sterling]13,500 and they will laugh at you.

"I take home about [pounds sterling]850 in basic salary and between [pounds sterling]1,000 and [pounds sterling]1,400, including the allowances. But if I'm off sick all I get is my basic. Out of that I've got to pay the mortgage, feed the kids and the cats and pay my son's college fees. I'm travelling from home to Gatwick every day and petrol isn't cheap. To be honest I almost think I'd be better off on the dole.

"This is why the public has to understand we are not 'taking the michael'. We just want fair pay. We haven't had a pay rise for three years and now Willie Walsh wants to freeze it again. I started as a cleaner at Heathrow 18 years ago and I was earning more then than I am now.

"When I am away somewhere, like America, only the hotel room is paid for, all our meals have to come out of our allowances. That is what they are for, I don't make a profit out of them."

The crew member, who asked not to be identified, added: "This month I've done four long-haul trips, three to the Caribbean and one to Florida. …

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