24-May-2010 8:48 AM

British Airways cabin crew launch new round of strike action

British Airways cabin crew launched a five-day strike at midnight on 23-May-2010 (Bloomberg/BBC News/Financial Times, 24-May-2010). The union is also planning to hold a further two five-day strikes from 30-May-2010 and 07-Jun-2010.

  • Unite Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley, made a last-minute offer to BA CEO, Willie Walsh, to call off the strike if the carrier reinstated cabin crew travel concessions. The offer was made via a televised statement (Bloomberg, 23-May-2010). Mr Woodley stated there had been “good progress” in negotiations held on 22-May-2010, before being interrupted by left-wing protesters. The two failed to resume talks on 23-May-2010 (Reuters, 23-May-2010);
  • British Airways stated talks failed after Unite wanted to revisit proposals it had already accepted and that the carrier has already agreed to reinstate the concessions once a deal between the two has been reached in full. The carrier called on Mr Woodley to control the union, as Unite branch, British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), is “not serious” about reaching an agreement. BA also commented that it was disappointed Unite had resorted to “negotiation through the media”. CEO, Willie Walsh, stated the carrier would not be grounded if the strike goes ahead. BA also commented it has a GBP1.7 billion “war chest” with which to fight against the 15 days of strikes (Mail Online, 22-May-2010);
  • British Airways World Cargo announced (21-May-2010) its long-haul and short-haul freighter programmes will be unaffected during the cabin crew's first strike period (24-May-2010 to 29-May-2010), as will all services in and out of London Gatwick Airport; [more]
  • Other airline responses: SAS stated it will be operating larger aircraft and providing BA Gold Executive Club cardholders access to SAS Lounges worldwide when travelling with the carrier during the strike action (Breaking Travel News, 21-May-2010).

Unite: “In a sign of good faith I am making this offer - Willie [Walsh], turn around and reinstate our people's travel without the unnecessary vindictive removal of their service and this union will call off tonight's strike and suspend the action to allow us to conclude the other issues that we were making good progress on yesterday before we were so rudely interrupted,” Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary. Source: Financial Times, 24-May-2010.

British Airways: “We had agreed to a request from Acas to meet this afternoon and are surprised that Unite did not take advantage of this. We have already offered to reinstate travel concessions to cabin crew once all elements of our offer have been implemented. Of more concern to us is Tony Woodley's comment to the media that he wants to revisit certain proposals in our offer, when previously he had indicated that these were agreed. This position reinforces our view that Bassa, at the centre of this dispute, is not serious in trying to come to a negotiated agreement with British Airways - and that Tony [Woodley] cannot control Bassa. We call on him to call off the strike action and return to the table with Acas,” Company Statement. Source: Financial Times, 24-May-2010.

British Airways: “British Airways will be flying tomorrow. We will not be grounded by the actions of a tiny minority who are clearly out of touch with reality,” Willie Walsh, CEO. Source: BreakingNews.ie, 23-May-2010.

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