Sir Richard Branson is planning to cut air stewards’ pay below the minimum wage, whistle-blowers claim, as they threaten strike action over Easter.
In cuts branded “unfair” by staff, Virgin Atlantic air stewards’ base salaries will increase marginally while allowance benefits, which make up a third of their pay, will be halved. Angry staff say that under the regime they would have to dip into their own pockets to pay for basic food and drinks at the “plush” hotels booked by the company.
The deal currently being offered, the airline crews claim, means that they will be earning below the minimum wage and that their annual allowances of around £7,500 will be cut in half.
It is also feared that the move could worsen Virgin Atlantic’s gender pay gap, as air stewards are more likely to be female, while most pilots – who will be unaffected by the move – are male.
Official figures show that the airline’s pay gap has widened, even though it is already one of the worst of any large British company. Last month it was revealed that the company’s pay gap increased from 28.4 per cent to 31 per cent in just 12 months.