BA faces more strikes as Iberia merger is sealed
Saturday 22 January 2011
British Airways cabin crews have voted for a fresh wave of strikes, inaugurating yet another round in the two-year dispute that has cost the airline £150m and seen 22 days of industrial action so far.
Some 78.5 per cent of the valid vote – or 5,751 staff – voted "yes" to further industrial action in the row over pay and conditions, said the Unite trade union, which counts 10,000 BA cabin crew among its members.
Unite did not fix any strike dates yesterday, and will have to give at least seven days' notice before taking action. But when he launched the ballot before Christmas, the union's general secretary-designate, Len McCluskey, joked "don't go on holiday" and refused to rule out strikes over Easter or on the Royal Wedding day in April.
Yesterday, Mr McCluskey stressed that the ballot was the fourth time in 13 months that BA crews had "expressed their dissatisfaction with management behaviour".
"Surely BA management must now wake up and listen to the voice of its skilled and dedicated employees," he added. "This dispute will be resolved by negotiation, not litigation or confrontation, and it is to negotiation that BA management should now apply itself. We are ready."
But BA said the "yes" vote represents less than half of its cabin crew, given the 75 per cent turnout for the ballot. The airline blamed the ongoing dispute on internal politics at the union and called for negotiators to accept the most recent deal tabled.
"Tony Woodley [Unite's joint general secretary] shook hands on a deal in October and Unite said it would recommend it to members, but then reneged on its promise," the company said. "This U-turn reflected the union's deep-seated internal divisions, especially its dysfunctional relationship with its crew branch, Bassa."
The airline has contingency plans that will allow all flights from Gatwick and London City airports, and all long-haul flights from Heathrow, to run as normal regardless of a strike by crew members.
The core of the dispute with Unite is about the terms and conditions of cabin crew jobs as BA aims to cut costs and bring staffing levels in line with rivals. But after the walkouts strikes started last year, the focus shifted to the handling of the situation, with accusations of bullying and intimidation on both sides. A particular bugbear for the union was BA's withdrawal of travel perks from staff who had participated in the strikes.
BA reinstated the staff travel scheme – which offers a 90 per cent discount on stand-by tickets – for all crew members in October, in a move which looked set to resolve the problems. But the deal fell apart after the airline refused to reintroduce the seniority scale giving longer-serving staff priority until 2013. Acrimony between the two sides flared again as Unite moved swiftly to ballot for further industrial action.
The latest "yes" vote came just as BA's long-anticipated merger with Spain's Iberia finally took effect yesterday. BA shares on the London Stock Exchange were suspended, and the newly formed International Airlines Group (IAG) stock will begin trading in London and Madrid on Monday morning.
BA and Iberia will continue to fly under their separate brands, despite the merger. But Willie Walsh, the BA chief executive, is stepping up to take the top job at IAG, supported by Antonio Vazquez Romero, the Iberia chief executive, as group chairman.
The BA chairman, Sir Martin Broughton, will be deputy chairman of the new group. Mr Walsh will be replaced at BA by its former chief financial officer, Keith Williams.
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
First full-length look is finally here
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...