BA hit by new threat of strike action

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The Independent Online
A third group of workers at British Airways has voted in favour of industrial action as it emerged yesterday that the airline is losing millions of pounds because of the threat of strikes.

According to a confidential memorandum, senior managers calculated a fortnight ago that the company had already forfeited pounds 60m worth of bookings. One manager estimated that the airline could lose around pounds 400m if the disruption lasted into August - around half next year's projected profits.

As corporate travel agents switched customers away from BA flights, The Independent learnt that more than 3,500 ground staff belonging to the GMB general union had voted to join 9,000 members of the Transport and General Workers' Union colleagues in strikes over the sell-off of the airline's catering division. The GMB members include key information technology personnel vital to the operation of the airline.

Both unions are considering proposals to soften the impact of the sell- off on catering staff. Many of the employees of the catering division have families in the Indian sub-continent and management has offered them additional guarantees about discount travel which can be worth thousands of pounds.

Catering staff are being balloted on the proposals and the result is due midweek.

A peace formula aimed at averting a separate three-day stoppage planned by 9,000 cabin crew is due to be discussed on Monday at the transport union's annual conference in Brighton. The action is due to begin at 6am on Wednesday.

Union officials believe a fresh company offer will do little avert the industrial action and claimed it was little different to the original deal.

A BA spokesman confirmed that the airline was losing money but believed pounds 60m was a considerable overestimate.