BA shareholders face union protest

British Airways shareholders will face a union protest today before the airline's annual meeting in London.

The Unite union, currently engaged in a bitter cabin crew dispute with BA, will be handing letters to shareholders as they attend the meeting in Westminster.

The letter urges management to end its "fixation with conflict" over a dispute which already cost BA around £150 million.

It is thought that Unite could be joined in the protest by a delegation from a Spanish union representing workers with the Iberia airline whose merger with BA is expected to be completed in the next few months.

BA cabin crew have staged a series of strikes since March and are currently being balloted on a fresh offer from BA.

The airline said the new offer addresses crews' concerns about future earnings and includes a firm commitment that staff could keep current pay and conditions.

Unite is making no recommendation on whether to accept the proposed deal.

Last year, Unite hired lemmings for a protest outside the annual meeting venue but the animals were taken away after an RSPCA inspector said they showed signs of distress.

In its letter to shareholders, Unite urged them to "use your influence to help bring an end to the strife which is wrecking the airline".

It added that BA had chosen a "destructive" confrontational approach to the dispute which had cost "well over £1 billion if we include industry estimates of future damage to brand and bookings".

This cost had now "vastly outstripped" the savings BA originally sought and it would "take years to recoup this wasted money", the letter said.

Unite added that it was "time for co-operation, not conflict", and that, whatever the result of the ballot over BA's new offer, bad feeling would endure unless significant efforts were made to prevent it.

Unite has said that removal of cabin crew travel concessions remains an obstacle to settling the dispute.

In the letter today, Unite said: "If management want to restore morale and team spirit at BA then, whatever the result of our ballot on the offer, it needs to do one thing above all: restore travel concessions in full to all cabin crew. It won't cost a penny. And it would be a gesture worth millions."

The Spanish CCOO union, which represents Iberia workers, issued a statement today saying it was "extremely concerned with the way senior BA management has instigated a conflict-based approach to industrial relations in the current dispute with cabin crew".

The statement went on: "Although CCOO believes that the merger with BA is to the benefit of our members, we have grave reservations over the style of management, particularly in respect of labour issues.

"Should a similar approach be instituted within the new joint company, or imported into Iberia, then we are clear that it will be vigorously opposed."













Addressing shareholders at the meeting, BA chairman Martin Broughton said the airline's chief executive Willie Walsh had often been depicted by Unite and Unite's cabin crew branch BASSA as "adopting a confrontational approach to industrial relations".

Mr Broughton said that "on the contrary", Mr Walsh and his team had successfully negotiated new modernised working practices with 16 separate union bargaining groups across the business.



Saying that BASSA had "distorted management's proposals" and spread alarm at what Mr Walsh might do, Mr Broughton went on: "Management must have the right to manage. BASSA has failed its members. They have misrepresented management to their members. They have misrepresented their members' views to management.



"They have declined to negotiate and thus frequently failed to represent their members' views at all. They have made promises to their members they cannot deliver. The (BA) board's patience with BASSA has now been exhausted."



Mr Broughton said: "While it is very regrettable that we have found ourselves in a fight with highly-valued and professional members of staff (and I include those who have been on strike but continue to act professionally on their return to work), we will win the right to manage."



Mr Walsh told shareholders said "some issues remain to be concluded" in the dispute but that he was "pleased that Unite is currently balloting its members on our proposals".



He went on: "We believe this offer provides a genuine opportunity to end this dispute."



Mr Walsh said that the airline had been able to operate many flights during earlier strikes, adding that if there was further industrial action, BA aimed to fly 100% of its long-haul operations."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game