BA to battle on despite strike threat

British Airways has vowed to press on with cost-cutting plans after the Unite union called 14,000 cabin crew to ballot on industrial action over new contracts. It is also looking to assure customers that there will be no disruption over the Christmas period.

BA said it was disappointed by the ballot decision but that changes would go ahead from November 16th as planned. “Our current cabin crew remain the best paid in the country by some way,” BA told reporters.

British Airways says there would be no change to the individual terms and conditions of the current crew, who would also not take a pay cut. BA added: “In fact, some 75 per cent of crew will receive a pay scale increase worth between 2 per cent and 7 per cent this year and again next year.”

“BA management’s determination to impose unacceptable contractual changes on cabin crew leaves us no alternative,” Derek Simpson, Unite’s joint general secretary said yesterday.

“Negotiation, not imposition, is the only proper way to conduct industrial relations.”

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The U.K. carrier plans to change working practices for new recruits as part of moves to gets its finances back in order. Willie Walsh has described the company as being in “a fight for survival”, and is targeting savings from its crew budget of about £140m a year.

The airline is seeking to reassure potential customers planning flights over the busy Christmas period saying, “We are not planning for a strike. We are continuing to run full operations. We are continuing to look to find a resolution to this dispute. In that period [Christmas] customers can rest assured.”