23-Jun-2010 9:04 AM

Unite announces new ballot

British Airways' cabin crew union, Unite, announced (22-Jun-2010) plans to conduct a new ballot of cabin crew members for further strike action. Unite has advised BA that it has until 29-Jun-2010 to demonstrate that it is willing to negotiate a solution to the fresh issues between the parties or it will ballot its members for strike action. The union stated the new dispute centres on three issues: 

  • Strike breakers: British Airways' "failure to respect its collective agreements" by using employees from other areas within the company to operate as cabin crew on world-wide and Eurofleet routes on reduced terms. This, along with the introduction of temporary cabin crew on terms and conditions which are contrary to those agreed within the world-wide and Eurofleet agreements, is considered totally unacceptable by Unite. The union stated BA's actions have caused divisions in the workplace which will take considerable time and effort to heal;
  • Travel concessions: The removal of travel assistance from crew who exercised their right to participate in lawful strike action. Unite is seeking the full reinstatement of this important item immediately, and without pre-conditions;
  • Disciplinary action: Unite also considers the disciplinary action taken against dozens of members for various misdemeanours related to the current industrial dispute as again vindictive, disproportionate and unnecessary. The union is therefore seeking the withdrawal of all disciplinary measures administered to Unite members.

Should BA fail to work with the union on a solution to the three issues, the ballot will open on 29-Jun-2010 and close on 27-Jul-2010. The carrier responded stating the union’s “apparent wish to target the summer holidays of tens of thousands of families is deplorable” (BBC News, 22-Jun-2010). The carrier reiterated plans to operate 100% of long-haul operations and a “substantial portion” of short-haul services from London Heathrow Airport. The carrier will operate full schedules at London Gatwick and London City airports. [more]

Unite: "Unite has consistently tried to find a negotiated settlement to the original items of dispute. Unfortunately there has been an unwillingness from the company to take a step back from its position of confrontation. These three new items have been caused by the BA's vindictive behaviour towards employees who participated in lawful industrial action and the ongoing disregard the airline is displaying towards its own workplace agreements. This is not the way to run a people-centred business. Even the consumer magazine Which has put BA well down the customer satisfaction list. In its recent survey of long and short-haul travellers, BA sits in 18th and 23rd place respectively. This is not where BA should be and this lowly ranking is certainly not the fault of its employees. The cost to the company's reputation, the GBP154 million that by its own admission it has lost as a result of taking on its employees, and the fact that it has already imposed the substantive items of change it needed to save GBP60 million pounds begs the question; what is the company attempting to achieve? As a result of its hard nosed attitude, BA will continue to lose many more customers and revenue to other airlines. Once again, we say to BA. Do not seek conflict. Drop the tough talk and work with us to deliver the change needed for the future and preserve the standards associated with this great airline," Brian Boyd, National Officer for Civil Aviation. Source: Unite, 22-Jun-2010.

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