Flight or Fight?
During the course of its 2009-2011 industrial dispute with cabin crew represented by the BASSA branch of UNITE, British Airways initiated a new fleet for all future flight attendants. The fleet named Mixed Fleet was designed to operate in isolation from and to eventually replace, existing cabin crew. The pay and working conditions of crew members in this new fleet was to be very considerably diminished and it was to have no trade union representation.
In its first few years, despite considerable pressure to discourage trade union membership, cabin crew in Mixed Fleet formed their own trade union branch, Mixed Fleet UNITE. By 2013 Mixed Fleet UNITE achieved legal recognition as a bargaining unit. At the end of 2016, in response to what the members described as "poverty pay" the branch successfully balloted for industrial action. In January 2017 strike action began. Since the commencement of the first ballot the branch membership has expanded by nearly 50% to over 3,000 members representing over 70% of the fleet.. To date there have been 26 days of strike action and the dispute has yet to be resolved.