Originally posted on Facebook
Hello, let me introduce myself, I am a forty-two year old mother who has been employed by British Airways for fifteen years. I have read a lot in the media over the last year about how spoilt and overpaid BA cabin crew are, similar comments even come from my own family who have read these reports and got sucked in and believed all the simple rhetoric. I had kept quiet, silenced by fear of my bulling management but now I want to exercise my right to reply – this is my voice.
Let us start with my salary – £28,000, not bad I hear you say. I agree. A little more than the national average and that’s what I think I am worth. About average, no better and no worse. I am at the top of my pay scale and will receive no more increments. When I joined BA my starting salary was £9,000. During my time at BA I have received increments for my loyalty and experience. No different from other employees who work for BT, Police Force Personal Secretaries and Journalists to name just a few. However our argument with BA has never been about money. It is about protecting our working patterns, the product we deliver onboard and the brand that means British Airways to our passengers. We would all agree to a pay cut if it protected the things that are important to us and important to you.
Like anyone else our working conditions are governed by law and in some instances we receive better terms than required by law. An example of this would be if we worked away for six days – the law would entitle us to two days off but we get three. Do you think this is deserved? Why not? Do you work to law? Did you know that you are only entitled to 20 minutes break during your eight-hour day at work? Is this all you get? No, you wouldn’t think much of an employer if they didn’t give you a one-hour lunch break. I don’t suppose many would want to work for a company like that. Good for you. I am glad that your employer respects your needs and gives you more than the law requires. No employer should work to the law. That is just there to protect you.
Now perks, we have all read about those, lovely delightful staff travel for instance. Hardly anyone I know uses it anymore. It is a standby ticket. We only get on if seats are available. I learnt the hard way and once spent five nights in Singapore sleeping at the airport trying to get home. Do you get any perks in your job? Maybe private health insurance or gym membership, corporate discounts, a company car, free lunch or cheaper shopping? Sorry if you are one of the ones that don’t but most people I know do, apart from government/council employees. I know Sky TV engineers get all the latest gizmos. Our business is flights and British Airways makes money from us using this service.
Now onto the subject of hotels: we work abroad and have to be provided with accommodation from our employer. Yes some of these hotels are luxurious and expensive but did you also know that in some places we don’t stay in the same hotels as our pilots. Why? Because in the past, crew have been held at gunpoint and robbed so it is deemed unsafe for pilots but we still stay there. Funny that. It’s a cost thing. Their hotel is far too expensive for us. We don’t complain and we’re not bitter. We know they are more respected than us. That’s the BA way. We also don’t mind that they earn two three or four times our salary. We appreciate what they do and their salary is none of my business. Some people do the same job, a chef for example. One who works in Mcdonalds won’t earn the same as Wagamama.
Unfortunately our employer has decided that as a community we are over paid, underworked, spoilt and worthless and it’s everybody’s business. It’s us this time but who’s next? How do I feel being sold out to the media as a scapegoat for Willie Walsh? I feel very sad because British Airways is my life and gave me a career I loved and cherished. I considered myself an ambassador and champion for the company. Loyal and fiercely protective of it, like a mother with a child. BA was something to be proud of, it was the best. You the customer told us you wanted to feel safe. We had the best safety training that went over and above the legal requirements and were proud with this knowledge. Our product was second to none. We represented quality and luxury, is it not our corporate goal to be a premium airline? The BA way was listening to our customers and making you feel safe, secure and valued.
We were the ones who held your hand when you were nervous, rocked your baby to sleep when she was crying, performed CPR on your husband after his heart attack, bandaged and comforted your mum when she took a nasty tumble down the stairs, delivered your sister’s baby, got you that extra G&T, we even gave you a lift to Gatwick when you missed your connecting flight. We have always been there for you and I always will. We want to listen to your fears and reassure you, make you feel valued and treated like the individual you are. Why, because we are the kind of people that get pleasure from helping others, it’s our very nature that we care. Heroes? No but not the villains either. We don’t like saying no. We aim to please and we fly to serve.
A few years ago we had a fantastic product and a brilliant service. We had a sense of pride, we were a family and were the best. The best check-in, catering, schedulers and engineers. We had the best people to do their jobs and we respected each other. Someone decided to make us enemies and now stands by watching us squabble with glee. They have achieved their goal. Now we are a workforce divided in all aspects. A company destroyed by egos.
To those of you who work in the offices, engineers and ground staff, I am sure you have enjoyed backing BA by becoming temporary cabin crew. You got away from your desk for a couple of weeks and it must have been quite the jolly. (I do wonder who was doing your worthy job in the process, you may find yourself surplus to requirements soon.) You had a brief encounter with life as a cabin crew member. But can I ask, did you miss the birth of your child, their first Christmas or birthday, your best friends wedding, the passing of a loved one. No? We have, it’s the reality of the job we do.
Those of you in management who have congratulated yourselves in the success of your strike busting tactics, are you really proud of your achievements? You have lowered the standards of this airline to something never seen before at British Airways. Yes your ‘scabin’ crew have received training but only to the standards expected by law. Yes you are crewing aircraft and they are carrying passengers, but again, only to levels required by law. Just like all those other airlines with terrible reputations that train their staff to these standards. You compare our salaries to the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair and it looks like you have created an airline comparable with that too. Is this what you want? Is this what our customer wants? We should be comparing ourselves with best in the industry, Cathy, Singapore, Emirates. Be careful what you want our airline to be. Yes we need cuts, but really, is this the way forward?
Pilots, those of you who wore our uniforms and did not support us despite earning double and triple and more than those you were replacing, shame on you. For the damage of trust between us now lays tattered and broken. To protect your own salaries and egos you turned on those who have served and supported you throughout the years.
Those crew who were intimidated by the company to going to work because you felt you had too much to lose, I don’t blame you. You probably thought you were helping our customers, but actually what you have done is contribute to driving them away by accepting inferior working practices. We were proud of our training and safety record. Look at the new crew and their training. Yes they are legal, but really is it something to be proud of. Do you think our customers are happy with this level of training and experience. Is that why they choose to fly BA.
Many times people ask me how I manage at home with childcare as my husband also works away. I tell them I have a fantastic childminder. She has been childminding for fifteen years. (as long a I have been flying!) She has a background in social services at a top London children’s hospital. She charges me £6.00 per hour day and night and my colleagues often comment that she seems expensive. I suppose I could get cheaper, maybe £4.50 but I trust her. I am paying extra for her experience and expertise. She is a professional and the best that I could find. Basically, I am trusting her with my son’s life …… When you fly, who should you trust with yours?
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