BA cabin crew to strike

12 Mar 2010 by AndrewGough

The threat of industrial action by British Airways’ cabin crew has become a reality at last, with staff set to strike later this month.

In an announcement made today (March 12), Unite confirmed a three-day strike would begin from March 20, plus a further four days from March 27.

The exact dates for walk-outs are March 20, 21 and 22, followed by 27, 28, 29 and 30. BA has now released a proposed timetable for the strike period, and passengers are advised to check their flight numbers against it.

In a press conference today, Len McCluskey, Unite’s assistant general secretary, said cabin crew had been “pushed into a position that was inevitable” by BA’s management.

But McCluskey did add that he hoped BA would come in “even at this last stage” with a revised offer, suggesting that strike action could yet be averted.

In response to today’s announcement, BA said it was “extremely disappointed” and that Unite’s decision to strike would cause disruption to “hundreds of thousands” of its passengers ahead of the busy Easter period.

Should a strike take place, BA said it would do everything it could to protect the travel plans of its passengers.

BA said it would attempt to run the following services:-

  • All flights from London City Airport including long haul to New York JFK

  • From Gatwick, all long haul services and 50 per cent short haul

  • From Heathrow, a “substantial” part of its long and short haul schedule

The revised scheduled release today will be made clearer, and more definite, “four or five days” before strikes are to begin, BA said.

BA has been preparing various contingency measures since the threat of strike action first appeared, such as non-cabin crew staff trained to do the job, and aircraft leased from other airlines.

BA’s CEO Willie Walsh hinted at a number of wet leasing agreements with chartered European airlines, where their aircraft, and crew, will operate as BA services.

Despite last minutes attempts to avert strike action from both sides, neither Unite nor BA management could agree on the terms of an effective cost cutting package.

The feud, which erupted towards the end of last year, centres around proposed cuts in crew numbers across BA’s fleet and other airline restructuring.

Unite submitted its own savings package earlier this week in the hope of meeting BA’s savings target of at least £62 million, but its attempt was rejected.

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Report by Andrew Gough

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