Pilots side with BA in Unite row

Pilots side with BA in Unite row

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has refused to join Unite in its battle with British Airways as fears of a “war of attrition” grow.

Balpa leader Jim McAuslan warned cabin crew represented by Unite they were being “badly led” in a battle they simple could not win.

McAuslan was commenting after an invitation from hardline Unite leader Len McCluskey for pilots to join cabin crew colleagues.

In reference to strike breaking plans at British Airways the Unite leader wrote: “I am writing to formally request you issue advice to all your members employed at BA that they should not undertake cabin crew training, and should not do cabin crew duties if Unite cabin crew do indeed take further strike action.”

However, McAuslan subsequently rejected the offer, stating he would not be “bullied” by Unite.

Comparing the present dispute to the miners’ strike, he said: “We cannot afford to see the BA cabin crew strike lead to the same sort of division in the aviation industry where good relations between staff are crucial to the safety-critical safeguards on which lives depend.

“We must all learn the lesson of history.”

He added the pilots’ position of neutrality stood regardless of whether Unite succeed in its attempt to Balpa expelled from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

“We will not be encouraging our members to strike break and we have offered to have local discussions with Unite - if not a truth and reconciliation commission, then a way of working together when this is over,” he added.

Len McCluskey is seeking to take the battle to BA

Long-running Dispute

The dispute between British Airways and Unite started more than two years ago.

Concerns were originally centred on new working contracts being implemented by the British flag-carrier, which would have seen a reduction in the number of cabin crew on long-haul services.

The airline and trade union has long since reached agreement over the new contracts, with Unite now focusing on the withdrawal of travel perks from members who participated in previous strike action.

Earlier this month Unite members voted for further strikes.

No dates have, however, been confirmed, with many speculating the Easter break or Royal Wedding could be likely targets for disruption.

Talks aimed at breaking the deadlocked had been scheduled for this week, but have since been postponed until next month.