BA cabin crew vote for christmas strike

British Airways strike

British Airways cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a dispute over job cuts and changes to staff contracts.The strikes are set to begin on 22 December and run until 2 January.

Cabin crew voted by nine to one in favour of the strike action, with an 80% turnout.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh said the decision was "cynical" and betrayed "a lack of concern for our customers, our business and other employees".

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said: "It goes without saying that we have taken this decision to disrupt passengers and customers over the Christmas period with a heavy heart."

He stressed that the union was keen to continue negotiations.

"We will wait, ready to meet, anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day, to try to see if we can resolve the dispute."

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh said the company would be doing everything it could to limit the effect of the strike action.

Customers who are booked to travel between 22 December and 2 January, and 48 hours either side of those dates... can change to another BA flight departing in the next 12 months at no charge
BA statement

"We are going to look at all our options [to minimise disruption]; operational, legal and industrial relations options," he told BBC News.

"Our intention is to inform affected customers directly if we have their e-mail address or by SMS text if we have their mobile phone number," BA added in a statement on their website.

"We will use the contact details supplied at the time of booking, so we ask customers to please ensure these are correct and up-to-date."

Mr Walsh said he had told the Unite union he was available for talks, but was uncompromising on the central issue of the dispute.

"The changes that we introduced in the middle of November will not be reversed. Those changes enabled us to offer voluntary redundancy to 1,000 cabin crew and those people have left the business."

Unions are unhappy about job cuts and changes to staff contracts, which they say they have not been consulted on.

BA has reduced the number of cabin crew from 15 to 14 on all long-haul flights, and has frozen pay for two years.

Unite said that the cuts involved imposing "significant contractual changes" on cabin crew employees, resulting in extended working hours, and reduced wages for new starters.

BA says it urgently needs to cut costs to ride out its dire financial situation. Last month it revealed it had lost £292m in the first half of the year - the worst period in its history - and said it would have to cut a further 1,200 staff.

On Monday it emerged that the financial position of the loss-making airline had taken a sharp turn for the worse.

The trustees of its two pension schemes have told the company that the schemes now have a combined deficit of £3.7bn.

It is not yet clear how serious the disruption will be or which flights will be cancelled, or what compensation will be available to affected travellers.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent said that those affected might find it difficult to arrange alternative travel plans.

"This is going to cost one million people their Christmas trips," he said.

"The travelling public are going to be absolutely appalled that so close to Christmas they have been left with no other options.

"There are no seats available on most other airlines, if you do find alternative seats it is going to cost you a fortune,"

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Dec 14 2009 17:39



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Dec 14 2009 18:06

Copied and pasted from the wrong thread to the right one!

miles wrote:
Here we go again....

The kinds of crisis facing BA - huge drops in profits, ballooning pension deficits - are symptomatic of the wider problems faced by other companies in the economy (not to mention the state sector).

Whether it's more than sabre rattling we'll have to see - it's clear the union had to 'do' something, given the extent of unhappiness amongst the cabin crew (which obviously is on top of the militancy shown in the past by baggage handlers). Either way - BA will get its cuts. If not now, then whenever they complete the tie up with Iberia, there'll have to be a whole round of cuts again..