Cabin crew at British Airways have confirmed they are to strike later this month, as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions at the flag-carrier.
Following months of negotiations, Unite this morning confirmed staff would walk out for three days from March 20th and for four days from March 27th.
The British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), Unite’s aviation arm, had previously stated there would be no industrial action over the Easter period.
However, there are now warning there could be further action after April 14th if a resolution has not been agreed with the airline.
Unite took the decision to strike following a vote in late February in which 81 per cent of British Airways cabin crew voted for action. A further ballot will now be held on a new offer from BA aimed at preventing strike action.
Unions are not recommending the deal to staff. However, an immediate ballot will take place, with the potential for strike action to be called off if the offer is accepted.
Unite has previously acknowledged the “need for change” at the airline and earlier this week proposed its own cost-cutting package through a combination of pay-cuts and part-time working
When rejected by BA earlier this week strike action became “inevitable” United argues.
In a statement the airline responded: “British Airways is extremely disappointed that Unite has announced plans for massive disruption for hundreds of thousands of our customers in the run-up to the Easter holidays.
“Unite’s action has no shred of justification. British Airways’ crew are rightly renowned for their professionalism and skills. Our entire package for crew recognises that and is reasonable and fair.”
British Airways points to two years of record financial losses as justification for imposing changes to working conditions.
The airline is seeking to cut £60 million from cabin crew costs, with the number of cabin staff cut on long-haul flights and fringe benefits enjoyed by crew curtailed.
The British flag-carrier has also proposed new contracts for new recruits at the airline; with details including a single on-board management grade, no seniority, promotion on merit, and pay set at the market rate plus ten per cent.
In defence BA has avoided compulsory redundancies and made changes designed to secure a long-term future of staff. Cabin crew face no pay cuts or reduction in terms and conditions – and remain the best rewarded in the UK airline industry, argue BA.
Should the strike go ahead, British Airways plans to operate all British Airways’ flights from London City airport, including long-haul services to New York.
The airline also plans to operate all long-haul services from Gatwick, as well as about 50 per cent of its short-haul departures. Similar figures are expected at Heathrow.
Chief executive Willie Walsh has previously outlined plans to recruit 1,000 cabin crew from within the ranks of British Airways, while also hiring a fleet of charter aircraft in order to meet the airline’s commitments.