Tensions were again rising in the battle between British Airways and Unite earlier today following the suspension of a member of cabin crew.
The British flag-carrier allegedly suspended Ms Andrea Molton following attempts to collect Christmas money for fellow employees presently suspended following strike action earlier in the year.
Unite joint secretary general Tony Woodley has said the decision “beggars belief”.
In a letter to Tony McCarthy, BA’s director of employee relations, he added: “It beggars belief that at this sensitive moment in industrial relations at British Airways, management should seek to take disciplinary action against a long-standing employee for collecting funds for Christmas gifts for sacked or suspended cabin crew colleagues.
“This meets nobody’s definition of ‘gross industrial misconduct’ and has led to a wave of outrage among BA cabin crew.”
BA said it could not comment on individual cases involving staff.
Unite selected hardline activist Len McCluskey as its next general secretary earlier this week.
The new leader was responsible for announcing plans for cabin crew to strike last Christmas, accusing BA management at the time of “bullying, harassing and demonising” those who supported industrial action.
His appointment has stirred fresh concerns at British Airways, with further industrial action now believed to be increasingly likely.
Unite recently suspended a ballot of members on British Airways’ latest contract offer, despite admitting the terms on the table were likely to be the “best available” through negotiations.
Following the recent suspension, Unite is seeking urgent talks with British Airways over the steps it needs to take to resolve the 14 month dispute with the cabin crew.
“This suspension exemplifies the bullying and vindictive attitude rife among some BA managers which I have repeatedly told you represents a major barrier to any settlement of our current dispute,” concluded Mr Woodley.