British Airways cabin crew are to stage a series of five-day strikes in their bitter row over jobs, pay and conditions, threatening travel chaos in the run-up to the summer holidays, it was announced today.
Unite said its members at the airline will take 20 days of action following their overwhelming rejection of the company's latest offer aimed at ending their long-running dispute.
Cabin crew will walk out on May 18-22 inclusive, May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9, which will cover the Spring Bank Holiday and school half-term holidays.
Unite's joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: "Passengers and investors alike will be dismayed that British Airways management rejected an approach by the union over the weekend, after their offer had been comprehensively turned down by their own employees.
"Cabin crew are left with no choice but to take further strike action. There can be no industrial peace without meaningful negotiations and while management victimises trade unionists and uses disciplinary procedures in a witch-hunt.
"The seven days notice period is sufficient time for BA management to do the sensible thing and reopen meaningful negotiations."
Unite said it was also planning to hold a further industrial action ballot of BA cabin crew over issues which have arisen from the company's conduct during the dispute.
Unite members took part in a series of stoppages in March which caused travel mayhem for passengers and cost BA tens of millions of pounds.
The airline put in place contingency plans to keep aircraft flying, including leasing planes and crew from other companies.
BA has accused Unite of "orchestrating" rejection of a "very fair" offer it said addressed all the concerns raised during 14 months of talks.
More than 7,000 union members took part in the latest ballot, with over 5,600 rejecting the deal and 1,375 voting in favour.
Union officials said the ballot result showed the continued "strength and courage" of the cabin crew, despite claims of threats, bullying, sanctions and loss of earnings.
The original dispute was over pay, jobs and conditions, including staffing cuts on flights, but the latest offer was rejected because BA has not fully restored travel concessions taken away from crew who went on strike, and because over 50 union members were suspended.
Five people who went on strike have now been sacked, including the branch secretary of the cabin crew's union section, the British Airways Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa).