British Airways is in court seeking an injunction to stop the latest strikes by its cabin staff. Meanwhile BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh says he does not expect to make an agreement with unions in time to prevent the first strike going ahead.
The airline is arguing that the latest strikes are illegal because Unite did not follow the rules in balloting its members over strike action earlier this year. In particular, the airline says that Unite failed to follow the correct procedures in notifying its members of the result of the ballot.
BA successfully won an injunction against the planned Christmas strikes in December last year.
A Unite spokesman said the union would “vigorously defend our ballot”.
“We have already responded to the company, and notified them that we have fully complied with the law,” he said.
The UK government has also made a last-minute intervention in the long-running British Airways dispute with cabin crew, calling BA’s chief executive and union leaders for an emergency meeting today.
Ahead of the meeting, the new Transport Secretary, Phil Hammond, said: “This strike is extremely bad news for passengers, British Airways and its employees.”
“I understand how difficult it can be when people’s jobs have to change, but a prolonged series of strikes will weaken the company and put those jobs at risk.
“I urge both parties to resolve their dispute to avoid disruption to passengers and safeguard the future of British Airways.”
BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, said that he would consider taking on new cabin crew once the latest strike was over to ensure “100 percent service” in case of another dispute.
Walsh said he expected 70 percent of flights to run during the series of strikes.
“Resolution is always possible,” Mr Walsh said. He said that “in the end cabin crew will vote with their feet” and continue returning to work in large numbers.
BA is also reporting its annual results this week and is expected to reveal record losses of up to £600m. This would come on top of a £401m pre-tax loss last year.
The figures will not include losses from the volcanic ash crisis, which will be in the following year’s results.