Fears of fresh strike action at British Airways are increasing today after the Untie union suspended a proposed ballot of cabin crew members.
Despite recently acknowledging the offer on the table from the airline was probably the “best available”, Unite leaders have decided they are unable to recommend the proposal to members.
Unite had been due to ask its 11,000 members whether they wanted to accept a suggested deal in the coming weeks.
Unite’s joint leader Tony Woodley said any sense the offer was being presented to cabin crew over the heads of “unwilling representatives” would be damaging to the union.
“Under these circumstances I have suspended the ballot on the offer and will meet with all of our cabin crew representatives as a matter of urgency to consider the next steps,” he added.
The decision makes further industrial action at the British flag-carrier – which has already seen 22 days of strike action this year – increasingly likely.
British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) has stated there was “no alternative” to industrial action, should the latest ballot fail.
This is the latest move in a year long dispute between British Airways and the Unite union.
Initially centred on attempts to cut costs at the airline during the recession, the dispute now revolved around rows over disciplinary action taken against cabin crew who went on strike, who were also stripped of their travel concessions.
To date, Unite strike action by Unite has cost the airline £150 million.
Under the latest deal, the union would have to drop legal action on behalf of members who have been disciplined and agree to a period of no industrial action before the travel concessions were fully restored.
A BA spokesman said: “Unite said three weeks ago that it would hold a ballot of its cabin crew members to let them decide whether to accept the proposals it had negotiated with us, with the assistance of the TUC and Acas.
“Unite described the proposals as the best available through negotiation.
“We believe that British Airways cabin crew deserve the opportunity to vote on these proposals, which address all their concerns and represent a fair resolution of this dispute.
“The way forward is for all sections of Unite to put aside their internal divisions and allow crew to have a direct say on their own future.”