BA cabin crew set to cast vote on strike action

| November 16, 2009 | 0 Comments

British Airways (BA) cabin crew are set to cast their vote on whether strike action will take place.

The Unite trade union is predicting that 14,000 air stewards and stewardesses will vote in favour of strike action over the Christmas period in a dispute over cost-cutting measures.

The measures include a two-year pay freeze for cabin crew, reduced holidays and cuts to the allowances for working on long-haul flights.

The vote will end on December 14 leaving open the option of strike action from December 21, having a major impact on heavy Christmas traffic.

However, BA’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, is urging crew members not to take industrial action as the cost-cutting programme is essential to secure long term profitability for the airline, which has been battling to survive during the economic downturn.

Brian Boyd, Unite national officer for aviation, said: “The way to deliver change is through negotiation, not imposition. [Cabin crew] care passionately about this business but feel they are not being listened to on serious matters of service delivery. This business is all about its customers and the crew do not want them to suffer as a result of these changes.”

The news comes just a few days after BA and Spanish airline Iberia reached a preliminary merger agreement.

The newly-created company will create Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers, carrying 62 million people a year.

However, Unite has said it will not support the proposed merger unless it is guaranteed that there will be no further job losses.

The International Air Transport Association recently said major airlines continue to suffer amid higher fuel prices and a severe fall in passenger numbers due to the global recession.

According to the industry group, losses across the whole industry for the 2009 year could amount to £6.86 billion ($11 billion).

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