'Quiet resolve' as BA cabin crew strike again

British Airways cabin crew continued taking industrial action today with a "quiet resolve" to remain on strike until their bitter row with the airline is resolved.

Members of Unite launched a five-day walkout yesterday, with two further five-day stoppages due in the coming weeks if the deadlocked row is not broken.

The cabin crew branch of Unite, Bassa, said there was a different atmosphere among strikers compared with the last series of walkouts in March.

"The atmosphere is not as frenetic and intense as last time. People seem to be more determined and they have a quiet resolve," said one official.

BA aircraft had a "keep the flag flying" slogan painted along their fuselages today to underline the message that the airline will continue to fly throughout this week's strikes.

The message was placed on 10 Boeing 777s at Heathrow and two at Gatwick, as the second day of the strike began.

The union said the first day of the action was "strongly supported" yesterday as it clashed with BA over the effect of the strike on flights.

BA said it operated more than 60% of its long-haul programme and more than 50% of short-haul flights from Heathrow, while services from Gatwick and London City ran as normal.

The airline said it ran some sort of service to 85% of its long-haul destinations and 100% of its short-haul destinations.

More than 60,000 customers will travel with BA every day this week despite the industrial action, the airline said.

Striking workers gathered again at a football ground near Heathrow airport's perimeter fence, where Unite leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson will address them later today.

The two sides remain in dispute over travel concessions taken away from staff who went on strike in March, and over disciplinary action taken against dozens of union members.

BA said in a statement today: "Our global operations went well yesterday and we have again got off to a very good start this morning.

"The numbers of cabin crew reporting at Heathrow are still at the levels we need to operate our published schedule and Gatwick cabin crew continue to report as normal.

"We are carrying more than 60,000 customers a day throughout the industrial action and we are keeping the flag flying.

"We continue to fly a full normal schedule at Gatwick and London City Airports. At Heathrow we continue to fly more than 60% of our long-haul flights and more than 50% of our short-haul flights. We remain available for talks with Unite."

According to its website at around 8.30am today, BA was operating roughly the same number of flights as yesterday.

Three Heathrow to New York flights were cancelled today as well as eight Heathrow-Manchester and eight Heathrow-Glasgow services.

Among other Heathrow-departing flights which were axed today were four to Paris, four to Munich, three to Frankfurt and two to Rome.

Unite clashed again with BA over the effect of the strike, claiming the airline was counting international cabin crew, who are not involved in the dispute, in its figures.

Officials said 473 staff did not turn up to work yesterday in BA's Worldwide Flights division, with 361 reporting for duty, although this included temporary crew, international crew, and volunteers, so around 56% of staff were on strike.

In its Euro fleet, 274 staff did not report to work, said Unite, adding that 248 went in, well below the normal day's staffing.

Union sources said they believed Mr Walsh sent a memo to staff yesterday saying that over the last few months 2,000 Bassa members had left the payroll.

Union officials said this was untrue, maintaining that since January they have only lost 568 people.

Mr Woodley said: "This strike is now in day nine. The meter is running at £7 million per day, which means BA has lost £63 million at least on the strike - and that is before BA counts the cost of business lost when passengers look elsewhere during the peak summer period.

"On what planet does it make sound business sense to spend shareholders' and investors' money this way? Or to allow this instability to drag on? The solution lies with Willie Walsh. He must waste no further time or resources but instead work with us to settle this strike."

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