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British Airways cabin crew launch second five-day strike

31-May-2010 9:17 AM

British Airways cabin crew union, Unite, confirmed (30-May-2010) the second wave of five-day strikes began at midnight on 30-May-2010 and will continue until 03-Jun-2010. Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) confirmed (28-May-2010) BA and Unite again failed to reach an agreement after meeting on 28-May-2010. Acas will be in contact with both parties to arrange future talks. [more]

  • Negotiations: Unite says it is "unreasonable" that BA is blocking a deal by refusing to move on the no-cost item, staff travel concessions. Unite Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson, stated Unite was prepared to meet with BA "any time, any place" to negotiate, but was concerned that BA CEO, Willie Walsh, was content to let the strikes continue without any attempt to resolve the dispute because he wants to "punish" the workforce. Unite stated it is “pressing” for further talks, but there are none yet scheduled (Bloomberg, 30-May-2010). Mr Simpson repeated the union’s offer to suspend the strike if BA restored travel concessions to its members (Reuters, 30-May-2010). He also offered to hold the talks within the “full glare” of the media, to allow the public to see how “unreasonable” Mr Walsh was being (AFP, 30-May-2010). Mr Simpson also commented that a ballot to continue the strike may be necessary to protect its members against BA using a legal loophole to fire staff (Bloomberg, 29-May-2010). British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) Branch Secretary, Duncan Holley, meanwhile stated the union’s aim is not to destroy BA and called for Mr Walsh to treat the staff with respect (Sky News, 29-May-2010);
  • Schedule: BA plans to operate more than 70% of long-haul and 55% of short-haul services from London Heathrow Airport this week. The carrier stated it may add further flights to its already expanded schedule, as striking staff continue to return to work. On 30-May-2010, 102 BA London Heathrow flights were cancelled including 22 long-haul and 80 Eurofleet, according to the union. Destinations affected include Johannesburg, Boston and Newark on long-haul, as well as Hamburg, Manchester, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam on short haul. Meanwhile, the passengers and revenue from some 53 BA flights for the day were handed to BA competitors as it continues to rely on chartered (wet leased) aircraft (16 flights) and 37 codeshare flights operated by other airlines. The union also stated (28-May-2010) that on 28-May-2010, BA cancelled 121 of the 333 flights from London Heathrow, including 20 long-haul flights and 101 Eurofleet flights. BA stated it operates the majority of services for the day and expected to operate a “large majority” of services on 29-May-2010, when cabin crew took a break from the industrial action (Bloomberg, 29-May-2010). The carrier criticised Unite for only allowing one day breaks in between the strike action, stating it is impossible to operate a full schedule over the day; [more - 28-May-2010] [more - 30-May-2010]
  • Strike cost: The union stated the GBP7 million per day strike has now cost the carrier at least GBP91 million;
  • Suspended staff: Unite stated almost 70 staff have been suspended or fired during the industrial action (telegraph.co.uk, 28-May-2010). BA denied the claim, stating that of the 34 individuals investigated for allegations of bullying or intimidation, 26 have returned to work, while eight have been dismissed for “serious cases of misconduct”.

Unite: “I prefer these negotiations to be in front of a camera. Let the world see what this is all about. If people could see what he is doing, they would know who to blame. It is all about confidence of management in the workforce and of workforce in the management. Clearly there has been a breakdown. If we could get the confidence back a deal is do-able,” Derek Simpson, Joint General Secretary. Source: AFP, 30-May-2010.

BASSA: “The crew don't want us to bring this company down. I want to be able to say to Willie Walsh: Bassa will - if we're treated fairly and reasonable - we will do business, we will behave, [we will] be decent human beings, as long as he is as well. As long as he treats us with that respect, he'll get it back,” Duncan Holley, Branch Secretary. Source: Sky News, 29-May-2010.

British Airways: “You’re not just going to be able to do a 100 percent operation on the day in between. Unite knew when it called this unjustified strike action that on the ‘breather’ days it would be impossible to restore a full schedule before the next five days of strike action started again,” Spokesperson. Source: Bloomberg, 29-May-2010.