Up to 3,000 cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic could go on strike in the new year because of a dispute over pay.
Staff at the airline are being balloted for industrial action because of claims their pay lags behind other airlines, including British Airways.
The strike ballot of Unite members is set to begin this week and close on 20 December.
Unite has also proposed a strike ballot which will also close on 20 December for staff of the British Airports Authority (BAA), because of a proposed closure of their pension scheme. It could lead to severe airport and airline disruption early in the New Year.
Brian Boyd, Unite’s national officer for Aviation, said: “At the moment Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew earnings are far less than their comparators on the main business routes at British Airways and clearly this is no longer acceptable to our members.
“Unite has done everything it can to avoid this situation but we have been left with no alternative but to ballot for strike action in an effort to get the company to recognise our members’ contribution to the company’s continued success.”
Lyell Strambi, chief operating officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Virgin Atlantic does value its many employees who have built the airline’s excellent reputation for customer service and we know our cabin crew would not want to damage that reputation.
“Unite strongly recommended this pay offer to their members because it is a very good deal, especially given the challenging environment we operate in. The pay offer reflects the huge contribution that our cabin crew make to the airline’s success and we have been told by Unite that it is the best to be offered by an airline this year. Our cabin crew have also benefited from pay increases of between 20 and 30% over the last four years.”
The pay deal offered 4.8% in the first year and RPI in the second year which is estimated to be 3.5% which equates to 8.3% over the two year period.