Unite to ballot over fresh strikes
Unite has declared its intention to conduct a fresh ballot of British Airways cabin crew in order to seek a mandate for further strike action at the airline.
While the London-based trade union – which represents some 12,000 crew at the British flag-carrier – stated a “negotiated solution” was still possible, the move raises the spectre of industrial action at British Airways across the crucial summer holiday season.
Brian Boyd, Unite national officer for civil aviation, said: “Unite has consistently tried to find a negotiated settlement to the original items of dispute. Unfortunately there has been unwillingness from the company to take a step back from its position of confrontation.”
United has offered British Airways until Tuesday June 29th to “demonstrate that it is willing to negotiate a solution”, with a ballot opening thereafter.
Any potential ballot would run until Tuesday, July 27th.
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has previously warned the airline would fight Unite for “as long as it takes”, and has consistently outlined the need for structural change at British Airways.
The airline lost a record £531 million in financial 2009/10.
Ahead of any potential negotiations, Unite cited disciplinary action taken against staff for misdemeanors during previous industrial action as the main cause for dispute.
Such action – including the removal of travel perks - by the airline is viewed as “vindictive, disproportionate and unnecessary” by Unite, which is now seeking a withdrawal of all disciplinary measures.
British Airways’ “failure to respect its collective agreements” by employing staff from other areas of the organisation to work as cabin crew during previous strikes was also raised as a potential area of concern.
“These new items have been caused by the BA’s vindictive behaviour towards employees who participated in lawful industrial action and the ongoing disregard the airline is displaying towards its own workplace agreements,” added Mr Boyd.
Willie Walsh has, however, previously stated the dispute is now “not about perks” and urged members of Unite to reject the union’s position.
The BA chief also outlined contingency plans to fly an increased number of services during any further industrial action.