15-Dec-2009 10:28 AM

British Airways cabin crew vote for 12 day strike over holiday period

British Airways' cabin crew union Unite, representing approximately 13,500 staff, voted (14-Dec-2009) in favour of strike action between 22-Dec-2009 and 02-Jan-2010. 92.5% of the voting members supported industrial action. More than 80% of unionised cabin crew voted in the ballot. The union stated the GBP60 million in wage and conditions proposals made by cabin crew have been "consistently refused" by the carrier. Approximately 910,000 passengers are booked to travel on British Airways over the 12-day strike period.

Unite: “You don't often get ballot results like this unless there is a deep-rooted sense of anxiety, concern and anger. The problem with intransigent management is that you can push people so far, but eventually workers will say that enough is enough. We would like passengers to be angry with the company. It is something of an irony that the people responsible for making BA the best airline in the world are now engaged in a dispute… They don't want to bring British Airways down, but they have been forced into a corner by the company. We are hoping, of course, all the time that a phone call will come and we will be able to resolve the issue," Len McCluskey, Assistant General Secretary. Source: AAP, 14-Dec-2009.

British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association: "We are deeply saddened to have reached the point where we must take industrial action to get our voices heard, but feel that we have been left with no other choice. We do not want to cause inconvenience, so even at this late stage we offer an opportunity for disruption not to occur," Union statement, 14-Dec-2009. Source: AAP, 14-Dec-2009

British Airways reacted by labelling the strike action as “completely unjustified and a huge over-reaction” to changes announced cabin crew". The carrier stated that cabin crew cannot be exempted from contributions to cost reductions that are “essential to move the company back toward profitability.” [more – British Airways]

British Airways: "A strike is senseless - and we urge Unite to draw back. We will not be reversing our changes to onboard crew numbers. They have allowed us to accept more than 1,000 requests for voluntary redundancy - and those former colleagues have left the business. Unite must understand that there can be no return to the old, inefficient ways if we want to ensure long-term survival in the interests of our customers, shareholders and all our staff. They have no justification for threatening such extreme action,” Willie Walsh, CEO. Source: British Airways, 14-Dec-2009

British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) stated that it hoped an eleventh hour resolution to the dispute was possible. [more - BALPA]

British Airline Pilots' Association: “BA's cabin crew have voted to strike but there can still be a resolution of this conflict even at this, the eleventh hour. The last thing we want to see is the travelling public inconvenienced and BA's long term future damaged,” Jim McAuslan, General Secretary. Source: BALPA, 14-Dec-2009.

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