BA faces new strike ballot

British Airways cabin crew are to vote in a new strike ballot on 22 January, in a move that aims to strengthen trade union Unite’s position during talks with the airline.

Voting is expected to take around a month to complete and strike action could begin on 1 March if the estimated 12,700 crew affiliated to Unite agree.

Unite said it had made it clear that “preparations for a ballot are under way and talks at the TUC are continuing”.

The union’s aviation officers, Steve Turner and Brian Boyd, said they were “determined” to hold a new ballot after a strong vote in favour of industrial action was ruled unlawful by the High Court last month.

The ballot will open on 22 January after the statutory one week’s notice to British Airways.

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The union has also said it has updated its membership database in a bid to avoid repeating the errors that allowed BA to take the previous ballot to the High Court over claims it contained votes from a number of members who no longer worked for the airline.

The court ruled the stike unlawful as around 900 cabin crew voted despite having taken voluntary redundancy. As a result BA was able to overturn a strike vote that had secured a 92% majority on an 80% turnout.

“We are sure that you appreciate the importance of ensuring our data is as accurate as is possible. Despite the decision of the High Court in December we are absolutely committed and determined to ensuring your voice is heard through this ballot,” officials told The Guardian.

Negotiation are currently underway between BA and Unite. BA’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, moved quickly after the High Court ruling to offer talks with Unite and has already offered concessions over changes that were imposed in November.

However he remains adamant that cabin crew costs must be radically cut, especially as its cabin crew have a higher average wage than staff at easyJet and Virgin Atlantic.

A BA spokesman said: “Unite’s general secretaries [Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson] have said they are approaching the talks in a constructive spirit and are seeking a settlement.”