BA cabin crew to strike after talks with airline break down

Flights to be cancelled from next week – with more walkouts threatened

Air passengers face weeks of disruption after talks between BA and the union representing its cabin crew broke down yesterday. The crew are being called out on a three-day strike from 20 March, and a four-day strike a week later. More strikes could follow in April.

With both sides blaming the other for the impasse, it appeared yesterday that the dispute could still be rumbling on when the general election is called.

"There will be no strikes over the Easter period, as we already promised, but further industrial action will be called to take place after 14 April if the dispute has not been resolved," Len McCluskey, who led negotiations on the union side, said yesterday.

As well as bringing hardship to air travellers, and to the families of the striking cabin crew, the dispute could turn into a political embarrassment for Gordon Brown. BA cabin crew are members of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association, a semi-independent section of Unite, the giant union that is Labour's biggest backer. Jack Dromey, the husband of Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, and Gordon Brown's former spin doctor Charlie Whelan are both senior officials of Unite, although neither is personally involved in the BA dispute.

The strike is a continuation of the dispute that almost led to cabin crew striking over Christmas in protest at changes in pay and staffing imposed by the airline in November. The threat to disrupt Christmas air traffic for 12 days was ruled illegal because some of the crew who had voted in a strike ballot were no longer working for BA. A second ballot of the 7,500 cabin crews in February produced another heavy majority in favour of a strike.

BA's tough-talking chief executive, Willie Walsh, appears determined to break the strike. BA management say that they have 1,000 specially trained staff to cover those who walk out, and they plan to hire 23 fully crewed planes from charter companies to help run flights from Heathrow. Mr Walsh has also threatened that cabin crew who go on strike will no longer get their travel to work costs paid for by the company.

All flights from London City airport and all long-haul flights from Gatwick would be unaffected. The main disruption will be at Heathrow, but some short-haul flights from Gatwick could also be cancelled. While the strike is on, there will be no hot meals, children's meals or duty-free sales on board their flights.

Bassa claims that, after the union had put forward proposals to cut costs, the gap between the two sides came to only £10m. The union had drawn up a 10-page document with suggested savings on pay, crew numbers, hotel costs and meal allowances, that came to almost £63m. But Mr Walsh countered by saying that some of the staff pay cuts proposed by the union would be "morally wrong" and that the union had failed to come up with any credible plan. He said the two sides were "not close at all".

Gordon Brown urged the two sides to resume negotiations. "It's in my view essential that the parties continue to talk, even at this 11th hour," he said. "I hope they will do so but I remind them of the danger and risk to the British economy of disruptive strikes going ahead."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week