BA braces for strikes after union victory

British Airways was tonight facing a fresh wave of strikes after a dramatic court victory by the cabin crew union which cleared the way for 15 days of industrial action.

Unite won an appeal against an injunction which blocked a planned five-day walkout this week and later confirmed that strikes will start next Monday.



Cabin crew will take action for five days, followed by further five-day stoppages from May 30-June 3 and from June 5-9, threatening travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers.



BA said it was "disappointed" with the Court of Appeal's decision, adding that it will implement its contingency plans to keep aircraft flying.



Shares in BA began the day on the front foot but fell sharply after Unite won its appeal and were trading almost 4% lower in a difficult session for the wider market.



The airline is set to unveil a huge £600 million slide into the red for the year to March tomorrow, bringing total losses in the past two years to £1 billion after a £401 million reverse in 2009.



The latest results - the worst since BA was privatised in 1987 - will include an estimated £40 million to £45 million hit from the first round of strikes in March.



The new strikes could cost the firm another £100 million in the current financial year, with Iceland's volcanic ash cloud adding to its woes.



Unite said tonight: "Following today's decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the injunction restraining strike action at British Airways, Unite the union today confirmed that cabin crew would go on strike for five days from Monday May 24, as previously notified."



Joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: "British Airways management now has a chance over the next three days to address our outstanding concerns and seize the possibility for industrial peace. We hope it has the wisdom to do so."



BA's lawyers said that it would consider the judgment and reserved its position on whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.



Two out of three judges in the Court of Appeal in London found in favour of the union, with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge stressing that the court was not making any comment about the merits or otherwise of the industrial action.



"We must all hope for a speedy and fair resolution of this dispute. It must be resolved by negotiation. Legal processes do not constitute mediation. On the contrary they often serve to inflame rather than mollify the feelings of those involved," he said.



Mr Simpson appealed to BA to resume negotiations to try to resolve the bitter row, saying this was not a moment for "triumphalism".



He said there had to be an honourable settlement, stressing that the two outstanding issues of travel concessions and staff suspensions had to be resolved.



"Our reaction is that it is a sensible decision that reflects the minor, almost irrelevant, case that BA tried to bring, and we are grateful that it puts sense into what is an industrial dispute and strikes at the heart of the argument that minor technicalities can set aside ballots like this one which was overwhelmingly in support and democratically conducted by our members."



Mr Simpson said the two sides were "within a slither" of reaching an agreement on the original dispute over jobs, pay and working practices, but the row over travel concessions and suspensions was holding up a deal.



Mr Woodley said: "We are delighted to have won today. Justice has been secured. Had it not been, the right to strike would now be hanging by a thread."



BA said: "We are very disappointed for our customers that Unite's appeal has been upheld and that the union intends to go ahead with its unjustified and pointless strikes.



"We will implement our contingency plan to keep British Airways flying. We are confident that thousands of cabin crew will ignore Unite's strike call and help us fly more than 70% of the customers who were booked to fly with us in the period targeted.



"We will run a full programme at Gatwick and London City. At Heathrow, we will operate more than 60% of our longhaul operation and more than 50% of shorthaul.



"Unite's strikes have failed twice and they will fail again. We have put forward a very fair offer that addresses the concerns Unite has raised over the last 15 months. We believe cabin crew would accept it if it was put to them in a fair and secret ballot."



TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This is an important victory. I hope it marks a halt to the recent run of arbitrary legal judgments where employers have found it all too easy to get courts to find in their favour and prevent employees from exercising their democratic right to take strike action.



Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "This decision risks further disruption for passengers. I urge Unite to pause for thought before taking any further action.



"There is still time to resolve this dispute and it is in the interests of the travelling public, British Airways and the cabin crew - whose jobs depend on the future success of the airline - that both sides now urgently get back around the negotiating table."



The conciliation service Acas said: "We have seen the interview with Derek Simpson where he says he hopes that they will be able to enter into talks to resolve this dispute. We also hope that the parties will again enter into talks directly. Acas and its facilities are always available to help if needed."



Corinna Ferguson, legal officer at human rights group Liberty welcomed the "common sense" judgment, adding: "Trade union ballots are there to protect employees, not to allow big business to play technical games in court."

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?