British Airways today claimed victory in its High Court battle with Unite, claiming “modest changes” made to onboard conditions do not breech staff contracts.
The airline has been locked in negotiations with the union for the past three months, following modifications to contracts designed to cut costs at the loss making airline.
British Airways reported a pre-tax loss of £292m in the six months to November, traditionally its most profitable trading period. Further losses are expected when full year results are confirmed.
Cabin crew are expected to walk out on March 1st as part of an ongoing dispute over working conditions. Unite claims the airline is in breach of contract by imposing changes, as existing crew complements were fixed by collective agreements with the unions and were “expressly incorporated” into individual contracts.
BA has cut complements in as a cost-cutting measure, rejecting claims changes were illegal and insisting the measures were essential to the survival of the airline.
“We are extremely pleased with today’s High Court ruling that the modest changes we made to onboard crew numbers on flights from Heathrow were reasonable, did not breach crew contracts and can remain in place,” said BA in a statement.
“Unite’s central demand over the last three months has been that we reverse these changes, despite the severe financial impact this would have on the company at a time when we are facing a second year of record annual losses.”
“Unite’s arguments as to why the changes should be reversed have been considered in great detail by the Court – and rejected.”
British Airways now hopes the strike to be cancelled. However, chief executive Willie Walsh revealed 1,000 pilots have been trained to act as strike-breakers if cabin crew go ahead with industrial action next month.
At a meeting of the Association of European Airlines in Brussels yesterday, Mr Walsh revealed plans to offer at least a partial service should Unite persist with industrial action.