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British Airways employees vote to strike over wages as a wave of employee discontentment increases in the UK

today2022.07.07. 4607 6 5

Background

Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

A wave of discontentment over salaries and conditions of service can be experienced in the UK and 41% of the entire global population is considering handing their resignation in response to work pressure. Employees are unhappy, anxious, worn-out, stressed, and tired due to pressure from an uncertain world. The next steps companies take in response can be crucial.

Due to the rising cost of living, there is ongoing pressure to increase salaries in the UK. The Office for National Statistics reported that the Consumer Prices Index, including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH), rose by 7.9% in the 12 months before May 2022.  88%  of adults in Great Britain reported an increase in their cost of living during May 2022. Over 46% of adults are struggling to afford energy bills.1

British Airways faces a huge litmus test ahead of it after its employees at Heathrow Airport voted for a strike during the summer school holidays. The airline industry is trying to recover from the impact on travel from COVID-19 and social shifts. The strike will likely disrupt one of the world’s busiest airports during the crucial summer months for travellers.2 

Employees are demanding that British Airways should reverse a 10% pay cut on employees that was imposed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of cost-cutting measures, the company also cut 13,000 jobs due to government lockdowns at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. No exact dates for the strike have been announced as of yet.2

On the other end, British Airways is facing a challenging operating environment which has seen the company facing losses of over £4 billion.  To prevent the strike, the company offered a 10% raise as a bonus which the unions have refused to accept. The BBC reports that the company said through a spokesperson that employees’ demands are unreasonable and that the company is “extremely disappointed.”2

Nadine Houghton, National Officer for GMB Union, told Sky News that British airways should invest in its people if it is serious about rising back to pre-pandemic profitability. In the interview, Nadine said, “All they want is that ten percent to be reinstated. They want to help British Airways to return to pre-pandemic profitability, and they think that the best way to do that is to invest in their staff. To ensure that recruitment and retention are in the right place.” She also said that their members have been receiving physical and emotional abuse. The employees are said to be fed up with the abuse, which includes being escorted out by police. Members of the GMB Union voted 95% in favor of the strike. The union also says that those who agreed were primarily low-paid women.3

A wave of discontentment over salaries and conditions of service has struck the UK. Several companies such as KPMG and Rolls-Royce are reportedly said to have increased their staff salaries.4 The Royal Mail and Rail network employees have also threatened to strike over pay issues. 41% of the entire global population is considering handing their resignation in response to work pressure.5 Employees are unhappy, anxious, worn-out, stressed, and tired due to pressure from a fearful world.6

1Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain: 11 March to 22 May 2022, by Office for National Statistics

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/bulletins/publicopinionsandsocialtrendsgreatbritain/11to22may2022

2British Airways Heathrow staff back summer strikers over pay, by Michael Race, British Broadcasting Corporation

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61906236

3GMB union blame BA for holiday strikes, by Sky News

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqhUzPdRlHs

4KPMG offers a salary raise to meet changing employee expectations, by Farai Mugabe, HR Congress

https://hr-congress.com/2022/05/24/kpmg-offers-a-salary-raise-to-meet-changing-employee-expectations/

5Annual work trend index report. Great Expectations: Hybrid Work Work, Microsoft Worklab

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index

6Six fearless talent choices that HR has to make in times of BANI, by Farai Mugabe, HR Congress

https://hr-congress.com/2022/04/14/six-fearless-talent-choices-that-hr-has-to-make-in-times-of-bani/

7THE HR CONGRESS TECHFEST, HR congress 

https://hr-congress.com/event/the-hr-congress-techfest/

8 THE HR CONGRESS WORLD SUMMIT

https://hr-congress.com/event/the-hr-congress-world-summit-2/

Written by: Farai Mugabe

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