BA union's 'outrage' over staff suspension

The prospect of another strike by BA cabin crew loomed nearer yesterday, after a woman was sent home for organising a collection for Christmas gifts for the children of employees who have been sacked or suspended.

Union leaders say that Andrea Molton, who has worked for BA for around 20 years, was suspended for holding a collection in the crew centre at Heathrow's Terminal 5. The management alleged that her conduct amounted to "bullying and harassment" of non-union staff.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the union Unite, has written to BA's management, warning them that: "This meets nobody's definition of 'gross industrial misconduct' and has led to a wave of outrage among BA cabin crew. I am urging you to intervene to lift Andrea's suspension immediately, failing which the consequences will rest entirely with management."

Ken Ablard, from Bassa, which represents BA cabin crew, said: "All Andrea was doing was asking people if they wished to donate any money. This was no different from collecting for Children in Need, because these are children whose parents have no jobs, at Christmas, because they have been suspended or sacked."

BA has sacked 16 and suspended another 58 in the wake of the industrial dispute that led to 22 days of strikes in March, May and June, but it is understood that 46 of those who were suspended are now back at work.