EasyJet management has been urged to get around the table for “proactive pay talks” to avert a potential strike by cabin crew.
The Unite union made the call as about 2,000 of its cabin crew members prepare for a strike ballot later this month.
The ballot for strike action will open on July 14 and close on August 3 – posing the threat of a walk out during the main summer holiday peak period.
Unite cabin crew operate from 11 UK bases: Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southend and Stansted.
In response, the budget airline said: “EasyJet can confirm it has now been notified of Unite’s intention to ballot the minority of its crew who are union members for industrial action.
“We would urge our cabin crew not to vote in favour of industrial action and remain confident we will operate the full summer schedule.”
Unite claimed that talks broke down on Friday with the carrier seeking to impose a 2% pay rise for cabin crew and 2.5% for managers.
Unite pointed out ‘the glaring pay disparity’ between the average £25,000 salary for cabin crew and the £6 million-plus earnings of chief executive Carolyn McCall.
In an escalating row, the airline denied that it terminated talks and said it had been in discussion with the union for 12 months including talks facilitated by the conciliation service Acas in June.
The carrier said: “EasyJet made more than five different offers and Unite made no constructive offer during the process.
“As a result the airline has awarded its cabin crew with the pay increase which was put forward during the pay discussion process.
“We believe it is right to make the award now since cabin crew, the majority of which are not union members, have been waiting for a conclusion to the pay discussions for a number of months.
“EasyJet is disappointed that in a recent Unite pay ballot, members voted to reject the offer – however, we note that the majority of easyJet’s cabin crew are not members of Unite and we estimate that only one in five of easyJet’s UK cabin crew voted against the offer.
“The offer was well above inflation and above recent pay increases received by British Airways and Thomas Cook under agreements with Unite.”
Unite regional officer, Kevin Hall, said: “We would urge easyJet to drop its high-handed approach and go back into talks.
“All our members are asking for is a decent pay rise that reflects the important role they have played in making easyJet, a leading European short-haul airline. We hope easyJet will reconsider its position and enter into meaningful talks.
“There is a quite considerable amount of time before the result of the strike ballot and plenty of opportunity for the management to come up with a fair pay offer – the ball is very much in their court.”
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