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British Airways enters third day of strike, considers new legal action

26-May-2010 9:23 AM

British Airways cabin crew strike action continued for a second day on 25-May-2010, with carrier aiming to operate 60% of long-haul services and 50% of short-haul services from London Heathrow Airport (Bloomberg/Dow Jones, 25-May-2010). About 197 short-haul flights and 29 long-haul flights from the airport were reportedly cancelled during the day (BBC News, 25-May-2010). London Gatwick and London City airport operations remain unaffected, with BA expecting to handle 60,000 passengers overall during the day. The carrier has grounded some of its B747 aircraft, due to the higher number of cabin crew required, while all of its B777s remained in service.

  • New legal action: BA has reportedly threatened to appeal the court’s decision to allow the strike to go ahead and has written to Unite requesting documents ahead of the potential legal action (Sky News, 25-May-2010);
  • Strike breaker numbers: Unite accussed (25-May-2010) BA of over-rostering cabin crew staff for the strike to provide it with a "cushion" so that should "real" crew fail to show, BA has a fall back. According to the union, 834 staff were rostered yesterday. This is essentially the crew number for a full schedule but BA only plans to run 60%. Unite added that of the 361 staff that showed up for work on international services and 248 staff for European services during the strike, the carrier included those who reported for work as international cabin crew (who are not on strike) and those on 24-hour stand-by (a higher than usual number have been rostered) who are then told to report for ground duties (so counted in figures as working). BA responded stating it did not recognise the figures, but that more crew than necessary had been showing up for work, allowing it to operate additional flights; [more]
  • Negotations: Unite again called on BA CEO, Willie Walsh, to resume talks with the union. BA maintains that it is open to negotiations. The two are reportedly in talks to resume negotiations, but are yet to agree on a schedule (guardian.co.uk, 25-May-2010). British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa) Secretary, Duncan Holley, stated they would be more likely to reach a deal with the carrier if they were negotiating with CFO, Keith Williams, instead of Mr Walsh (telegraph.co.uk, 25-May-2010). Mr Williams will take over as BA CEO once its merger with Iberia is completed, with Mr Walsh to become CEO of the wider company.

Unite: "This strike is now in day nine. The meter is running at GBP7 million per day, which means BA has lost GBP63 million at least on the strike - and that is before it counts the cost of business lost when passengers look elsewhere during the peak summer period. On what planet does it make sound business sense to spend shareholders' and investors' money this way? Or to allow this instability to drag on? The solution lies with Willie Walsh. He must waste no further time or resources but instead work with us to settle this strike," Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary. Source: Unite, 25-May-2010.