BA cabin crew to hear result of strike ballot

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The threat of a strike at British Airways is set to come closer today when the result of a ballot for industrial action among cabin crew is announced. A meeting of workers will be held at Sandown Park racecourse in Surrey ahead of an expected announcement of what action will be taken in a in a long-running dispute over changes to working practices, a pay freeze and job cuts.

The union will have to give seven days notice of strikes, so the first walkout could be on 21 December.

The prospect of strikes has grown after the failure of talks between BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, and leaders of Unite on Friday. A strike would be the first of its kind since 1997, when BA's employees went on strike for three days. A strike was averted at the last minute two years ago.

BA recorded a pre-tax loss of £401m last year and is reportedly losing £1.6m a day after a downturn in the industry.

The two sides have been talking for nine months, but BA says it can not wait any longer to implement changes because of the financial crisis it faces.

The airline has decided to cut cabin crew numbers and employ new crew on different contracts, which the union said involved worse pay and conditions.