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Unite in legal battle with BA

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by Kay Mitchell

The Unite union is in the High Court this week to resolve whether there should be a permanent injunction preventing British Airways (BA) from imposing cost-cutting measures.

Unite previously applied for a High Court injunction to block BA’s plans, but it was unsuccessful .

The airline wants 75% of its crew to accept a pay freeze this year and for 3,000 staff to switch to part-time working.

BA cabin crew had planned to strike over the Christmas period in light of the proposals but in December, the High Court ruled that Unite had not correctly included the votes of some cabin crew who had already accepted voluntary redundancy under the airline’s cost-cutting programme.

However, Unite is claiming that it was not properly consulted on the changes.

Last year, the airline admitted it was fighting for survival and is set to report its third quarter results on Friday, Analysts are expecting an operating loss of between £90 and £100 million.

The airline suffered a loss of £292 million for the six months to the end of September 2009.

Meanwhile, Unite announced last week that a second strike ballot had begun for its 12,000 cabin crew members and is to close on 22 February, the news will no doubt raise renewed fears for travellers.

The news comes just a few days after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said 2009 saw the biggest decline in air passenger traffic since the aftermath of World War II.

The Industry body’s chief, Giovanni Bisignani, said: “In terms of demand, 2009 goes into the history books as the worst year the industry has ever seen.”

IATA estimates that airlines collectively lost $11 billion (£6.8 billion) in 2009 and believes that airlines will suffer losses of $5.6 billion (£3.5 billion) in 2010 – an increase from the $3.8 billion it originally predicted.

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News posted: February 2, 2010

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