BA renews attack on union strike ballot

British Airways last night renewed its attack on the unions over the decison to ballot staff for strike action, calling the decison "bizarre and regrettable".

The airline said that some staff who had been balloted for action in its World cargo division had yesterday endorsed management plans to improve efficiency with the aim of saving pounds 1bn from costs by the end of the decade.

Employees voted in favour last month of the proposals which protect jobs but impose a two year pay freeze. Bob Ayling, BA's chief executive, said: "These kind of undertakings will improve processes and bring greater efficiency to our entire operation.

He added that the strike ballot, called by the Transport and General Workers Union, could only jeopardise this and other agreements BA had reached with other staff members.

The strike ballot was called over BA's decision to sell its long-haul catering operation at Heathrow. BA defends the sale arguing that it is the only major carrier in Europe which still has its own catering operation.