New BA row as strikers lose travel perks

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A fresh row flared at British Airways today after the airline told cabin crew who went on strike for three days that they will lose their travel perks.

Staff receive discounts on travel and free flights, depending on length of service, and were warned by BA's chief executive Willie Walsh that the perks would be withdrawn if they joined the strike.

Members of Unite who took industrial action for three days from last weekend have now received letters telling them they are losing the perks.

A BA spokesman said: "Our cabin crew knew that if they took part in the strike they would lose their staff travel permanently.

"Staff travel offers heavily discounted travel to employees. This is a non-contractual perk that the company can withdraw at its discretion.

"The industrial action impacted on our operation and our customers and we will undoubtedly suffer additional costs and further losses as a result."

A Unite spokesman said: "This is the clearest possible example of BA's bullying and contemptuous approach to its employees. Cabin crew showed last weekend that they will not be intimidated.

"Unite will challenge this vindictive move in whatever way seems appropriate."

Unite's joint leader Tony Woodley told a rally of striking cabin crew workers on Monday that he believed the discounted travel arrangements were now "custom and practice", not a perk.

BA said the three-day strike cost it £21 million and is braced for a four-day strike from Saturday in a bitter row over cost-cutting and jobs.

The airline has pledged to operate increased numbers of flights during the next strikes.