Some cabin crew employed by British Airways at Heathrow will walk out for another two weeks, stretching the long-running dispute into the peak month of August.
Members of Unite working for BA’s Mixed Fleet operation are currently taking 16 days of industrial action, which is set to continue up to and including Sunday 16 July.
After the only two days of normal working in July, the strike will resume on Wednesday 19 July and continue to Tuesday 1 August. It will cover key dates for families travelling abroad on holiday.
Unite’s national officer, Oliver Richardson, said: “Today’s announcement of a further escalation underlines the determination of our members in their fight for better pay and against British Airways’ bullying behaviour.
“We are seeing strong support for the ongoing strike action. The time and money British Airways is spending on wet leasing aircraft and bullying striking cabin crew are resources which could easily settle this dispute.
“It’s high time British Airways stopped spending millions defending low pay and its bullying approach by negotiating a settlement to this long running dispute.”
The airline is hiring in planes and crews from Qatar Airways, which owns one-fifth of BA’s parent company, IAG. The short-haul jets are operating around 30 flights a day. The aircraft and crew would otherwise be idle at present, due to the ban on Qatari airlines flying to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
British Airways is like to continue this “wet lease” agreement.
A BA spokesperson said: “As during Unite’s previous industrial action, we will ensure all our customers reach their destinations.”
In practice, that means there will be some cancellations, with passengers on affected flights offered a range of options, including a refund, re-routing or re-booking on a different service.
In the current strike, BA claims to be operating 99.5 per cent of its normal schedule. Today, six long-haul flights have been cancelled because of the Mixed Fleet stoppage.
The airline's Heathrow-Doha service has not operated since the start of the strike, and is cancelled up to and including next Tuesday.
The BA spokesperson added: “Instead of calling further completely unnecessary strikes, Unite should allow its members a vote on the pay deal we reached two months ago.
“It seems extraordinary that a trade union should ask its members to give up their pay and benefits for virtually the whole of July, trying to target the holidays of hard-working families, rather than give those members a chance to settle the central issue of the dispute.”
Unite has launched legal action against the Government’s decision to approve the use of Qatar Airways planes. The union argues that the arrangement breaches European regulations, and that insufficient notice was allowed for objections.
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