Union fury over BA member suspension

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Union leaders today expressed anger at the suspension of a member of British Airways cabin crew after she collected contributions for colleagues facing disciplinary action as a result of strikes earlier this year.

Unite's joint leader Tony Woodley wrote to the company to express his "dismay and anger" over the airline's treatment of Andrea Molton.

The union said she was suspended for collecting contributions towards the cost of Christmas for colleagues suspended or sacked by BA following a series of walkouts earlier this year.

In a letter to Tony McCarthy, BA's director of employee relations, Mr Woodley said: "I am writing to formally register my dismay and anger at the suspension of Andrea Molton

"It beggars belief that at this sensitive moment in industrial relations at British Airways, management should seek to take disciplinary action against a long-standing employee for collecting funds for Christmas gifts for sacked or suspended cabin crew colleagues. This meets nobody's definition of gross industrial misconduct" and has led to a wave of outrage among BA cabin crew.

"This suspension exemplifies the bullying and vindictive attitude rife among some BA managers which I have repeatedly told you represents a major barrier to any settlement of our current dispute.

"I am urging you to intervene to lift Andrea's suspension immediately, failing which the consequences will rest entirely with management."

A BA spokesman said: "A member of cabin crew has been suspended following an allegation of bullying and harassment.

"The company's disciplinary process has been in place for many years and was agreed with all of its unions, including Unite. As a responsible company, we would not divulge details of individual cases."

The 14-month-long dispute between BA and its cabin crew remains deadlocked after Unite decided not to ballot its members on an 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.