British Airways has branded Unite “dysfunctional” as the trade union confirmed it would ballot members over further industrial action at the airline.
In a move designed to disrupt publicity around the merger of BA and Spanish flag-carrier Iberia, Unite said a ballot would begin in seven days.
Pictured: Tony Woodley leading a protest against BA
If members endorse further strikes, action could begin in the New Year.
While negotiations over new contracts at British Airways have been concluded, Unite remains unhappy with British Airways’ refusal to reinstate travel perks to crew members who have taken part in previous strikes.
Outgoing Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley called the decision “needless and vindictive” and called on British Airways to put the needs of passengers first.
The airline has seen staff walk on for a total of 22 days in 2010.
Following the latest developments British Airways questioned the ability of Unite to bring the disagreement to a mutually acceptable conclusion.
“Tony Woodley shook hands with us on an agreement in October, and said he would let cabin crew vote on the deal with a recommendation for acceptance,” read a statement.
“Unite has broken this promise and instead has now chosen to create fresh uncertainty for customers and damage the interests of thousands of its own members within British Airways.
Members of the hardline British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) faction are believed to have vetoed the latest BA offer.
Internal disagreements such as this have raised concerns at BA.
“We have said for some time that Unite is dysfunctional, and the disagreements between different sections of the union have been played out in public,” continued the statement.
“In recent days, Unite has changed its position yet again, calling for fresh talks then announcing a strike ballot before such talks take place.”