Battle of logos as unions attempt to outfly BA

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The Independent Online
British Airways will be embroil-ed in a highly embarrassing "battle of the logos" this week when it replaces its "world's favourite airline" slogan.

As BA launches a new aircraft livery - partly designed by David Hockney - and reveals its new catchphrase "serving the world community", union leaders will disclose their own motto: "serving world labour - building global solidarity".

The public relations battle centres on the threat of industrial action by 18,000 cabin crew and ground staff mainly at Heathrow and Gatwick which is seen as a critical dispute for the future of industry worldwide.

The Transport and General Workers' Union has recruited the help of the International Transport Workers' Federation, which represents aviation unions in 120 countries, and is determined to detract from the "Coca Cola image" they claim BA is trying to promote.

Stuart Howard, Secretary of the Civil Aviation section of the ITF, said it was ironic that the company was promoting the idea of service to the world com-munity when it was not concerned with the community which worked for the airline.

More than 9,000 cabin crew are being balloted on a new pay and productivity package which union leaders believe will mean members working longer hours for less money. Voting forms are also going out tomorrow toa similar number of ground staff over a plan to sell off the catering department at Heathrow. The results of the ballots are due at the end of this month.

At the heart of union concerns is a fear that the company's insistence on saving pounds 1bn a year by 2000 is part of a strategy to create a "virtual airline".

George Ryde, airline official for the TGWU, said: "We believe BA is trying to become less of an airline operator than a company which makes travel arrangements."

The ITF believes that if BA succeeds in pushing through plans to contract out its services, then other major airlines will follow suit.