BA warns of cancellations as four-day strike ends

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

British Airways warned passengers to expect cancellations today as cabin crew returned to work following the end of a four-day strike.

The airline said all flights at Gatwick and London City airports would operate as normal, with the knock-on impact at Heathrow "far less than anticipated" due to the numbers that came to work over the last four days.



Chief executive Willie Walsh also maintained his combative stance against trade union Unite, taking out newspaper adverts saying the union had failed to ground the airline and that "well over" 80% of customers originally booked for travel during the strike period had flown.



He said that more than 60% of cabin crew had ignored the strike call, adding: "We have seen a fantastic effort by dedicated staff across British Airways to keep the flag flying."



Mr Walsh also indicated the carrier's position would not change, saying: "We have put a fair and sensible offer to the union, and I hope it will now allow its members to vote on it.



"Let us work together to create an airline that can invest in better services for our customers and provide long-term opportunities for all our staff."



Leaders of the carrier's striking cabin crew last night called for fresh talks to resolve the bitter dispute over jobs and cost cutting.



Hundreds of strikers held a noisy rally yesterday in central London to mark the end of the four-day walkout which has cost the company tens of millions of pounds and disrupted travel for thousands of passengers.



Unite has pledged not to hold any strikes over Easter, giving a window of opportunity for negotiations to try to break the deadlocked row and avert any more industrial action.



Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, told the strikers gathered outside the TUC headquarters, they had "solidly" supported the action and now deserved a decent settlement.



"We want British Airways to come back to the table. We have an opportunity now in the next few days or even weeks over Easter to negotiate a deal that you are willing and prepared to buy into."



Mr Woodley attacked Mr Walsh for being "vindictive" in withdrawing travel perks from cabin crew who went on strike, saying the move was "completely unnecessary."



Union officials said any deal will now have to include the return of travel concessions.



The strikers arrived for the rally in buses having earlier been on picket lines at Heathrow airport on the fourth day of the action, which followed a three-day strike last week.



They chanted: "Willie, Willie, Willie, Out, Out, Out," wore masks bearing his face, blew whistles, waved flags and shouted: "Are You Making Any Money BA?"



A company spokesman said the dispute will ultimately be resolved through a negotiated settlement, adding: "We remain available for further talks."



Earlier, some cabin crew claimed their pay slips had been brought forward to show them how much money they had lost by joining the strikes.



Unite said one crew member was given a hand-written pay slip showing she had lost £800 as a result of the industrial action.



"We understand that BA has fast-tracked the issuing of pay slips to show cabin crew how much their pay has been cut in an attempt to shock them," said a union official. In some case pay slips have been hand-written."



A BA spokesman said: "All our pay slips are automated - there are no hand-written pay slips. We have only just issued pay slips for March - these could conceivably include some loss of pay for those crew who did not report for duty during a strike period.



"We made it clear to cabin crew, well in advance of Unite's unjustified strike action, that they would not be paid from the point they failed to report for duty to the point at which we could reasonably allocate another duty."



Unite is planning to raise £700,000 to support the striking cabin crew with an "unprecedented" levy on its branches.

Comments