British Airways staff have unanimously rejected plans to cut thousands of jobs and freeze pay.
A meeting of about 2,000 BA workers, mainly cabin crew, discussed BA’s plan to cut up to 3,700 jobs by March 2010 and freeze pay for all staff.
A spokeswoman for the workers union Unite union told The Times that BA workers had: “overwhelmingly rejected the company’s plan, and there was overwhelming support for the union’s alternative proposal”.
She described BA’s cost-cutting drive as “an opportunistic use of the recession” to cut jobs. She said the union had devised a plan to save £130 million by freezing pay for two years with a limited voluntary redundancy plan.
The revolt by BA workers comes just two days before the airline and staff are due to hold talks with ACAS, the arbitration service, acting as a mediator.
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.