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BA stops pay of pregnant cabin crew

Just when you thought they could stoop no lower — British Airways management strike again! BA cabin crew, that become pregnant and live too far to travel to Heathrow or Gatwick to perform ground duties, will now be forced to take unpaid leave by the airline. A move by management in recent days will see one of the country’s major employers discriminate against pregnant women. The cabin crew’s union, Unite, said it feared this would further wound the already badly damaged relationship BA has with its cabin crew staff – and undermine attempts by the airline’s new Chief Executive, Keith Williams to seek peace with the crew.

Last week BA changed — without prior negotiation — a long standing agreement that offered protection to pregnant cabin crew members who are required to be grounded from flying duties as soon as they are pregnant. This agreement was put in place to protect women and to reduce the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy-related complications.
Brendan Gold, Unite national officer, said:

This is a shameful attack on pregnant women and a further example of a macho management culture at BA which is out of date and now seriously out of line.

BA is turning back the clock on its maternity agreement and on how it treats its majority female cabin crew. This retrograde move will make starting a family, while working at BA, a very difficult choice for many women. This is an outrageous way to treat women in an iconic British company like BA.

Instead of rebuilding the battered relationship BA has with its cabin crew following the current two year dispute, BA is continuing to provoke anger and resentment from its crew members.

Over the years BA has recruited its cabin crew staff from all parts of the UK as well as from continental Europe. BA has closed its regional bases forcing workers to travel hundreds of miles to their place of work, yet it now intends to stop payment to any pregnant crew staff member who is unable to commute to BA’s last two hubs, Heathrow and Gatwick.

Unite will challenge this decision and is taking legal advice on whether BA is breaking sex discrimination laws.”

The majority of BA’s cabin crew are women and will receive around £25,000 per year, including flying expenses. The loss of pay throughout a pregnancy will make having a child at BA prohibitively expensive for many women.


  1. Vannerman says:

    Um… why should BA pay cabin crew who are pregnant for doing nothing when the same rules don’t apply to other staff ? Surely if people wish to get vexed over this, they should have been campaigning for all the office based and ground staff to be allowed to get paid from the moment that they found they were pregnant, in line with their cabin crew sisters.

    Anyone care to identify any other company that pays female staff for doing no work from the moment they discover they are pregnant up till the point at which they start maternity leave.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      The “problem” for BA management arises because, having recruited cabin staff from all over the UK, they then closed their regional centres, removing them as places for redeploying pregnant cabin crew. Why should that justify the withdrawal, without negotiation, of the rights of pregnant women?

  2. Duncan Holly says:

    Hi, Duncan here. Sorry Jon, what rights are we talking about. Cabin crew have to declare that they are pregnant and are required to report for ground duties. The problem arises as you state, because not all cabin crew now live close to their base, but there always was a percentage of cabin crew who could never undertake ground duties because they had chosen to reside outside of the UK. Clearly it is unreasonable to expect BA to pay them from the moment that they render themelves unable to work due to pregnancy up to the point at which they would have started normal maternity leave. Should BA be forced to keep open loss making parts of its business simply to provide places for pregnant cabin crew to be able to undertake ground duties ? Wouldn’t that mean making cuts in more profitable parts of the business to pay for this ? Sounds like the finances of the madhouse. The fact is that claiming that pregnant women have a right to be paid for not working is sexual discrimination. Male cabin crew are a minority and get no such treatment.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      I can’t agree with your view of what constitutes sex discrimination, Duncan. All employers have a duty towards employees who become pregnant, and pregnant women have a right not to be discriminated against.

  3. Matty says:

    Is the Duncan Holly here any relation to Duncan Holley the sacked Unite Bassa branch secretary and top hagiographer?

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