Thousands of British Airways cabin crew are planning to stage a three-day strike. This follows the breakdown of talks over sickness absence, pay and staffing.
Starting on January 29, the Transport and General Workers’ Union, which represents 11,000 British Airways cabin crew employees will strike.
Two other three-day strikes are planned for February 5, 6 and 7; and February 12, 13 and 14 if the issues are not resolved.
The union is objecting to rules introduced by the CEO, Willie Walsh.
Reductions in sick leave and the number of flight attendants on planes are part of Walsh’s cost-cutting program aimed at saving $888 million by March 2008.
British Airways statement on T&G cabin crew dispute
We are extremely disappointed that the T&G cabin crew union has walked away from negotiations and issued a direct threat to the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of our customers.
If the union goes ahead with its proposed series of three 72-hour strikes starting on Monday January 29, it will cause massive disruption for customers, and needless damage to our business at a time when we are facing more intense competition than ever before.
We remain committed to the search for a peaceful outcome to this dispute and we urge the union to withdraw this totally unjustified strike threat to give negotiations the fullest chance of success.
Despite its public rhetoric, the union in private remains resolute in its refusal to talk with us about any degree of change for our cabin crew.
We place immense value on the contribution of our cabin crew, which is why we provide them with terms and conditions that are among the very best in the industry.
We have not imposed changes and we do not seek to. We want to negotiate new ways of working with cabin crew, as we have with other staff groups within British Airways, to help put the airline in better shape to succeed in a dynamic, highly competitive global industry.
We have recognised the genuine concerns of our cabin crew about our absence management policy and, at the T&G’s request, have tabled serious proposals to change the way the policy is applied to cabin crew.
However in our discussions so far, the T&G has hardened its stance. Its latest position includes a demand for a significant pay increase and a return to the excessive levels of absence experienced before our absence management policy was introduced.
The union is now asking for a relaxation of the policy, which would see average cabin crew absence rise back toward 22 days a year.
The union’s demand for revised pay scales would involve rises of up to 18 per cent.
Additional demands on a range of other issues from the T&G would increase the company’s annual cost by £37 million through extra staffing and allowances and seriously undermine our competitiveness.
The T&G should pause to reflect before leading our cabin crew down a path of confrontation that can serve no positive purpose.
We recognise that this is a worrying time for our customers and from today (Sunday January 21) we will allow customers booked to fly with us between Monday January 29 and Friday February 16 to change the date of their trip.