Fresh strike threat for BA

British Airways cabin crew will be balloted for fresh strikes unless their bitter dispute is resolved by next Tuesday, it was announced today.

Unite said thousands of its members will vote on June 29 on whether to launch a new wave of walkouts, threatening disruption to flights in the busy school holiday month of August.

The ballot result is due on July 27, so any action could be held seven days later, in the first week of August.

Unite said the new ballot would centre on issues including the removal of travel concessions from staff who took part in previous strikes, disciplinary action taken against dozens of union members for incidents related to the industrial action, and BA's "failure" to respect collective agreements.

Brian Boyd, Unite's national officer for civil aviation, said: "Unite has consistently tried to find a negotiated settlement to the original items of dispute. Unfortunately, there has been an unwillingness from the company to take a step back from its position of confrontation.

"These three new items have been caused by the BA's vindictive behaviour towards employees who participated in lawful industrial action and the ongoing disregard the airline is displaying towards its own workplace agreements.

"This is not the way to run a people-centred business. The cost to the company's reputation, the £154 million that by its own admission it has lost as a result of taking on its employees, and the fact that it has already imposed the substantive items of change it needed to save £60 million begs the question - what is the company attempting to achieve?

"As a result of its hard-nosed attitude, BA will continue to lose many more customers and revenue to other airlines.

"Once again, we say to BA: do not seek conflict, drop the tough talk and work with us to deliver the change needed for the future and preserve the standards associated with this great airline."

Cabin crew have taken 22 days of strike action since March after a row over cost-cutting flared last year and was made worse after staff travel concessions were hit and a number of union members suspended.

Unite said the issues associated with the original cause of the dispute had still not been resolved. In the past six months, cabin crew have twice voted by overwhelming majorities to take strike action.

A BA spokesman said: "Once again, Unite and its cabin crew branch Bassa have demonstrated their selfish lack of concern for our customers and their own colleagues.

"Their apparent wish to target the summer holidays of tens of thousands of families is deplorable. However, should there be any further industrial action, we are determined to keep even more of our customers flying.

"We will strengthen our contingency plans and aim to fly from Heathrow 100% of long-haul operations and a substantial proportion of short-haul services in addition to our full normal programme from Gatwick and London City.

"Unite has shown its weakness by excluding from this ballot Gatwick cabin crew, who have never believed its claims that the company's actions have been unreasonable. Unite and Bassa are interested only in representing those who accept their narrow view of the world.

"We believe our crew would vote to accept our offer to Unite which guarantees pay rises for two years, protects existing crews' terms and conditions and leaves Heathrow crew the best-rewarded in the UK airline industry."

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