10
May
10

British Airways plans fresh strikes

NEWS
British Airways plans fresh strikes

Monday, May 10, 2010

NEWS Unite said its members at the airline would take 20 days of action following their rejection of the company’s latest offer aimed at ending the long-running dispute.

Cabin crew will walk out from May 18 to 22, May 24 to 28, May 30 to June 3 and June 5 to 9, which will cover the school half-term holidays and a bank holiday.

Unite ordered four five-day strikes from May 18 to June 9 which will affect fans flying to the World Cup in South Africa.

Leaders of British Airways cabin crew will on Monday consider calling fresh strikes after the rejection of a deal aimed at ending their long-running dispute.

Members of Unite voted by 81 percent in a 71 percent turnout not to accept a proposal from the airline which would have ended a bitter, year-long row.

Union activists will press their leaders to call a lengthy strike following a series of stoppages in March which caused travel chaos for passengers and cost BA tens of millions of pounds.

British Airways accused Unite of ‘orchestrating’ rejection of a ‘very fair’ offer it said addressed all the concerns raised during 14 months of talks.

Representatives of the cabin crew will meet Unite’s joint general secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, to discuss their next move.

The two union leaders said: ‘British Airways management should take note of their own employees’ strong rejection of their offer and immediately address the outstanding concerns.

‘They should make no mistake that Unite is fully committed to supporting our members in furthering this dispute if no resolution is found.’

British Airways said in a statement: ‘British Airways is disappointed but not surprised that Unite has clearly orchestrated a rejection of a very fair offer that addresses all the concerns raised during 14 months of talks.

‘We urge Unite to put an end to this unnecessary dispute and focus on the best interests of its members. There can be nothing positive to be gained from further strikes.

‘The majority of our crew came to work during the previous strikes and demonstrated their firm commitment to our customers, despite their union’s callous disregard for the traveling public.

‘Unlike other businesses and airlines, we have avoided compulsory redundancies. Cabin crew face no pay cut or reduction in terms and conditions, and remain the best rewarded in the U.K. airline industry.

‘It is not too late for Unite to put an end to this dispute and support our recovery from two consecutive years of record losses and return to sustained profitability and job security for its members.’

More than 7,000 union members took part in the latest ballot, with over 5,600 rejecting the deal and 1,375 voting in favour.

Union officials said the ballot result showed the continued ‘strength and courage’ of the cabin crew, despite claims of threats, bullying, sanctions and loss of earnings.

Cabin crew representatives said they had not ‘dissected’ the proposed deal because it had not been recommended, but officials said there was a ‘complete lack’ of any detail.

The original dispute was over pay, jobs and conditions, including staffing cuts on flights, but the latest offer was rejected because British Airways has not fully restored travel concessions taken away from crew who went on strike, and because over 50 union members have been suspended.

Five people who went on strike have now been sacked, including the branch secretary of the cabin crew’s union section, the British Airways Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA).

‘Your union is looking for a reasonable compromise to allow the threat of any industrial action to be lifted and ensure that all of us can move on and put this behind us.

‘Subsequent recriminatory actions and public statements of intent have now made this increasingly difficult and unlikely.

‘An insistence that people who participated in lawful and legal industrial action are punished is simply not helpful in finding a solution to what are already difficult issues,’ said a message from BASSA.

‘There is still time to avoid unnecessary disruption and anxiety to both cabin crew, fellow colleagues and of course, our customers.

‘We sincerely hope that this opportunity is not squandered but by now we think we all know that it will be. This is a company that is now not prepared to settle for anything less, and are now literally hell bent on the total destruction of your union to pave the way for its low-cost vision of the future.’

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