The spectre of strike action loomed over British Airways again today, as members of the Unite union voted in favour of industrial action.
In the latest stage of an ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions, 81 per cent of Unite members – which represents over 15,000 members of British Airways cabin crew – voted in favour of a strike. Turnout was placed at 80 per cent.
Dates for any potential strike are yet to be announced. However, Unite has ruled out action over the Easter period, following an adverse reaction from the travelling public to planned Christmas strikes.
Unite must also give BA seven days notice before taking any action.
Planned strikes over the festive period were called off following legal challenges over ballot procedures.
“We can only hope that BA management will now recognise the only way to resolve this is through negotiation, not through litigation and certainly not through intimidation,” said Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey.
British Airways has been attempting to push through a number of reforms. These have included cutting the number of cabin crew on long-haul flights and curtailing some of the fringe benefits enjoyed by crew.
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.
Last week the High Court in London ruled the changes were not illegal, in effect supporting BA’s position.
In a statement BA argued: “The vast majority of crew who voted in this ballot will have done so before the High Court decision. We hope Unite will bear this fact in mind as it considers its next steps.
“We believe some progress has been made in recent talks under the auspices of the TUC and we reiterate our wish to resolve the issues between us in the interests of our customers and all our staff.
“However, we will not allow Unite to ruin this company. Should a strike take place, we will do everything we can to protect our customers’ travel plans as far as possible.”
BA chief executive Willie Walsh has claimed pilots and ground staff could be drafted in during in any strike in an attempt to keep as many flights in the air as possible.