Cabin crew are poised to reject demands by British Airways for new pay and conditions contracts and up to 3,700 job cuts which chief executive Willie Walsh says is necessary in its “fight for survival”.
Rising anger and threats of strike action is leading to fears of a summer of chaos for millions of passengers at the peak of the late July and August holiday season. Union sources say proposals by BA for a two-year pay freeze and radical new contracts for 14,000 cabin crew will be rejected “by a massive majority” at today’s meeting.
BA cabin crew members say that if BA does attempt to impose a deal on them, they will ballot immediately for strike action.
This comes ahead of a meeting with BA and conciliation service ACAS on Wednesday.
The airline said in a statement: “It has not proved possible to conclude an agreement with the trade unions on our pay and productivity discussions by the deadline of June 30. We have therefore asked the conciliation service ACAS to facilitate any future meetings we may have.”
However BA has publicly declined to comment on speculation that it was drawing up a revised terms and conditions contract for cabin crew with a 90-day “sign or you’re sacked” deadline.
Insiders say BA is also drawing up plans to break any strike via a “ghost army” of up to 500 staff already recruited on less generous contract terms and conditions under an operation code-named “Project Columbus”, and linked to its Open Skies subsidiary.
Union sources said up to 100 managers who took voluntary redundancy at the end of last year at an average cost of £100,000 have been brought back by BA for £1,000 a day to potentially help deal with any strike action.