A fresh round of strikes by British Airways cabin crew are set to go ahead on Monday after the High Court overturned a ban on industrial action. The ruling follows an injunction granted to BA last Monday ruling that the Unite union had not reported results of its strike ballot correctly to members.
The UK government has made a last-minute intervention in British Airways’ dispute with cabin crew, calling BA’s chief executive and union leaders for an emergency meeting today.
The conciliation service Acas as well as the new government have made a public appeal to both sides in the British Airways cabin crew strike. New Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has urged them to “hammer out a solution”.
British Airways’ cabin crew received a 5 percent pay rise last year despite the flag carrier making record losses and its rivals freezing salaries. Civil Aviation Authority figures show BA cabin crew average salaries rose to £31,400. Virgin Atlantic’s crew, meanwhile, had their pay frozen at £14,400.
The strike by British Airways cabin crew has stalled the recovery of BAA’s six UK airports. Passenger numbers in March fell 1.5 percent from February, with 200,000 passengers lost due to the two strikes. But Heathrow still managed to maintain its recovery by rising 0.4 percent year-on-year.
British Airways has headed off a third round of industrial action by cabin crew next week as talks with unions attempting to resolve changes in working practices make “serious progress”.
Cabin crew union Unite has reacted angrily to news that British Airways has awarded seven senior executives windfall share options worth almost £3 million despite the on-going strike troubles.
British Airways has declared that the second strike is inflicting less financial and operational damage than the first, with losses of £5.5m a day compared to £7m of the original three-day strike. This puts the total cost of the two strikes by cabin crew at around £40m.
British Airways has warned of further delays and cancellations this week as the cabin crew strike rolls into a third day with no signs of an end to the dispute that is costing the troubled flag carrier tens of millions.
Iberia’s cabin crew are threatening strike action over plans to launch a new carrier this year that would pay crew lower wages. The new airline would employ some 350 staff and operate 14 aircraft, and is viewed as an attempt by the Spanish flag carrier to sidestep union resistance to cost cuts.
British Airways has unveiled plans to break potential industrial action, led by a task force of 1,000 trained volunteers to replace feuding cabin crew. Chief executive, Willie Walsh, said he would also hire up to 23 fully-crewed planes from a charter company to help run flights out of Heathrow.