British Airways documentary ‘could spark strike ballot’

British Airways documentary 'could spark strike ballot'

A ballot for fresh industrial action at British Airways over demands to improve the “work/life balance” for cabin crew could be held when a fly on the wall BBC documentary series airs next week.

The claim is made in the Independent in a preview of the series which follows the training of Alice, Patrick and Jodi, selected from thousands of applicants who want to be the face of the airline.

A Very British Airline, which begins on Monday on BBC2, shows how candidates to join BA’s cabin crew are “fired” if they fail key tasks during an intensive training programme.

The documentary says that following a damaging series of strikes in protest at cuts to cabin crew staff numbers, new entrants to the mixed fleet crew, who work short and long-haul routes, are paid less, in line with BA’s budget airline competitors.

The narration states: “The hiring of a younger, cheaper cabin crew has been a strategic success for the company. With thousands of eager applicants, the airline can afford to be strict.”

Cabin crew union Unite told the newspaper that the programme presented a “one-sided” description of life for staff following the resolution of the dispute.

Unite regional officer Matt Smith said: “BA has made considerable savings with mixed fleet cabin crew but about 25% of staff are leaving every year because they are so exhausted.”

The cameras film a training session dealing with medical emergencies, attended by applicants hoping to join the airline’s cabin crew.

The lead trainer says that managing a fresh corpse during a flight is a “grey area”. She tells the trainees: “You cannot put a dead passenger in the toilet. It’s not respectful and it’s not strapped in for landing.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA parent company International Airlines Group, features in the opening episode, which explores how the airline tries to persuade people to spend more to fly.

The cameras are allowed behind “millionaire’s door” at Heathrow Terminal 5, a lounge, restaurant, spa and champagne bar reserved for First Class flyers.

The series follows the high-profile launch of BA’s first Airbus A380 as the airline embarks upon a £5 billion fleet modernisation programme.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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