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New union leader attacks 'culture of fear' at BA

The new leader of Britain's biggest trade union attacked the "culture of fear" at British Airways today as he launched a drive to discover the level of "bullying and harassment" against cabin crew.

Len McCluskey, newly-appointed general secretary of Unite, said the behaviour of the airline's management had been "disgraceful" in the wake of the bitter 14-month-long dispute which remains deadlocked.

"We have launched a survey asking whether our members have been subjected to or witnessed bullying, harassment or intimidation," he said in an interview with the Press Association.

"BA is back in healthy profit and its senior management have their pockets jingling with gold, so it's time they showed respect for our members.

"George Orwell's 1984 is alive and kicking in British Airways. What is going on is absolutely outrageous, with people scared stiff to say a wrong word for fear of being suspended."

Unite has complained to the airline about the suspension of a cabin crew worker for collecting contributions towards the cost of Christmas for colleagues suspended or sacked by BA following a series of walkouts earlier this year.

Unite has decided not to ballot its members on a recent offer aimed at resolving the row.

The union is seeking urgent talks with the company over how to resolve the bitter dispute, which started last year over cost-cutting, but worsened after BA suspended a number of workers and withdrew travel concessions from staff who went on strike.