BA cabin crew vote in favour of strike action

| February 22, 2010 | 0 Comments

British Airways (BA) passengers will face travel chaos after the airline’s 12,000 cabin crew members voted in favour to take industrial action over cost-cutting measures, which include a pay freeze, a switch to part-time working for thousands of staff and working conditions.

The results of the strike emerged this evening after Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said there had been an 80.7% participation rate in the ballot, with 78.7% (7,482) supporting strike action and 1,789 voting against it.

Mr McCluskey said: “What this result shows is that BA must work to resolve the deep sense of grievance among its staff.”

It is the second strike ballot after an earlier vote was deemed illegal. Cabin crew members were scheduled to take 12 days of strike action over the Christmas period but the High Court ruled that the Unite union had not correctly included the votes of some cabin crew who had already accepted voluntary redundancy under the airline’s cost-cutting programme.

However, today’s results were lower than the last ballot, which saw 92.4% of those voting backing a strike.

Meanwhile, Unite will have to give seven days notice of any strike action - which could begin as early as next Monday, March 1.

The union will hold a meeting of workers on Thursday when strike dates are set to be announced. However, Unite has said it will not disrupt services over the Easter period.

In light of the strike action, BA has been training other staff, including pilots, to take the place of cabin crew.

BA has admitted in the past that it is fighting for its survival and said the cost-cutting programme is part of a strategy to reduce salary costs.

Willie Walsh, BA’s chief executive, has said he has no intention of reversing his cost-cutting programme. He said: “It is absolutely clear that the changes we have made have proved to be the right thing to do.”

The news comes as pilots at German carrier, Lufthansa, have gone on strike today after concerns that the country’s flag carrier would transfer jobs to foreign subsidiaries such as Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia where wages are lower.

The four-day strike is expected to cause widespread disruption.

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