Cabin crew union seeks to avert strike ballot after new BA proposals

With the score standing at one million disrupted journeys, £150m in direct losses and untold reputational damage, the British Airways cabin-crew dispute may finally be moving towards a messy conclusion.

A third ballot of nearly 12,000 members of the union, Unite, was due to begin tomorrow. A vote in favour of strike action would have jeopardised BA passengers in the peak holiday month of August.

But yesterday Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of the cabin-crew union, Unite, announced that he intends to suspend the poll, in the light of new proposals from BA.

"The company has made it clear that the offer on the table will be removed if the strike ballot starts on Tuesday," said Mr Woodley. "It would therefore be inexplicable if we did not put this offer to our members."

Cabin crew have taken 22 days of strike action since March this year. The dispute began over BA's imposition of new rosters on flights to and from Heathrow. But the latest ballot is over concerns that have arisen from the stoppages: the deployment of what the union calls "scab labour" to work as cabin crew on flights during strikes; disciplinary action taken against dozens of union members; and the removal of strikers' staff travel privileges. BA has offered a partial reinstatement of cheap flights, but with the loss of all rights earned through seniority.

The union has always stipulated that any settlement must include full restoration of travel perks.

BA has started advertising for 1,250 new cabin crew on inferior terms and conditions to existing staff. The airline welcomed Mr Woodley's announcement, but was at pains to describe it as a "statement from the Unite leadership". Managers believe that the union's main cabin-crew branch, the British Airways Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa), is a maverick organisation which Unite's leaders struggle to control.

One industry insider told The Independent that the joint general secretary's move was aimed at "pulling the rug" from beneath Bassa. "Since BA's new proposals don't begin to address the issues in the ballot, the only reason to suspend the ballot is so that Unite can retreat from the dispute with some dignity still intact."

The union has indicated that around 7,000 cabin crew have taken strike action, but BA puts the figure at around 3,000. When the latest poll was announced, BA said it would run its entire long-haul operation from Heathrow, and most of its short-haul flights from the airport. Gatwick-based cabin crew have not taken part in strikes in any significant numbers.

The winners of the dispute so far have been BA's rivals, who have picked up hundreds of thousands of passengers who have chosen, or been forced, to use other airlines. But Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, called for an end to the increasingly bitter dispute. Speaking to LBC Radio, he said: "I don't think it's particularly good for the industry, and it's very sad to see an airline like British Airways and their staff and the management tearing themselves apart."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
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

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes