Fresh BA ballot plans at 'advanced stage'

Plans for a fresh ballot of British Airways cabin crew are at an "advanced stage", it was revealed today as staff took part in the final phase of the current wave of industrial action.













Members of Unite walked out for the 22nd day today in the long-running dispute which has cost the carrier more than £150 million, with further action threatened for the summer unless the deadlock is broken.



Assistant general secretary Len McCluskey told a noisy rally of strikers near Heathrow airport that the "fight for justice" would continue, adding that preparations for a fresh ballot were at an advanced stage.



He said the blame for the continuing instability at the airline must be placed "firmly" at the door of BA management's "tough guy" stance.



Mr McCluskey said: "Comments about holding out for as long as it takes against the workforce should cause despair among BA board and shareholders.



"While Unite views this as a process where both parties must compromise, BA's chief executive prefers to see this as a siege against his own workforce.



"This bunker mentality suggests that the true objective is not cutting costs, but crushing the workforce. Talking tough will not help find peace."



Mr McCluskey said the City should scrutinise the airline's claims about its strike-breaking operation more carefully, adding: "The question shareholders and the City must ask themselves is, not how many planes took off, but how many passengers actually flew on BA flights?



"Planes were empty because passengers were enjoying the hospitality of competitors, and BA paid them for the privilege. The jewel in BA's crown, Terminal 5, has taken a heavy hit as there are no passengers to enjoy the shop, and forward bookings are taking a huge hit as passengers reject Willie Walsh's vision for BA.



"This is not successful contingency planning, this is ruination. If BA had nothing to hide, then they should throw open their books and show exactly what this cost. The City must wise up to the BA con trick."



Mr McCluskey praised the cabin crew who took strike action, saying they had faced "unprecedented" intimidation, continuing: "It is been like you've done 15 rounds with Mike Tyson - and you're still standing. Not only are you still standing, but unless BA resolves this dispute, you're up for a rematch.



"The intimidation crew have faced has been unprecedented, yet over 22 days they have stood tall and remained dignified. They can go back to work with their heads held high. They may be bullied but they will never be bowed by BA."



Labour MP John McDonnell, who pulled out of the party's leadership contest earlier today, told the rally: "My message to you is a simple one - thank you. You have shown that people will get off their knees and stand up for what is right. You have won the admiration of the whole community."



The two sides continued to clash over the impact of the strikes, with BA insisting it was running 80% of long-haul flights from Heathrow despite the industrial action, while Unite claimed that BA failed to operate 43% of its reduced schedule yesterday.



BA maintained it ran more services during the current five-day walkout, saying more crew had turned up for work.



A number of striking cabin crew told MPs yesterday there was a "climate of fear" at the airline, as they explained their side of the row.



Unite said about 60 crew members had now been suspended and eight sacked in recent weeks, mainly for "trivial reasons", and has accused the airline of a "crackdown" on union members.



BA has strongly denied the charge, maintaining it was duty-bound to follow its disciplinary code.



BA has been aiming to operate around 80% of long-haul flights from Heathrow despite the strikes, up from 70% and 60% in the past two strike periods, and 60% of short-haul flights, up from 55% and 50%.



BA said it was slashing Club World business-class fares by up to £900 and selected first-class fares by more than £1,500 in its premium leisure sale starting tomorrow.



Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "Customers can take advantage of these great discounts with confidence. We recognise that some may be concerned about the possibility of future disruption but it is our intention to keep flying 100% of our long-haul operation throughout the coming months. We will keep the flag flying."



The conciliation service Acas has said it expects a date to be set shortly for peace talks to resume.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own