Discipline cases 'complicating' bid to end BA row
More than 80 British Airways cabin crew have been suspended and 13 sacked because of incidents related to their bitter dispute with the airline since it flared earlier this year, it was revealed today.
Unite said the number of disciplinary cases taken against its members was "seriously complicating" attempts to break the deadlocked row, which started over cost savings but escalated following a series of strikes.
A union spokesman said today: "The continuing rise in the number of unjustified suspensions and dismissals is seriously complicating any attempt to bring this dispute to an end."
BA said the vast majority of staff who had been suspended were now back at work, although at least 13 have been sacked for "serious cases of misconduct", subject to appeal.
"Most of the suspensions have related to allegations from other employees of bullying and intimidation. It would be a dereliction of our duty of care as an employer to ignore these.
"Investigations into any allegations are conducted under the company's disciplinary procedures, which have been in place for many years, are fair, open and transparent and are agreed with all our trade unions, including Unite," said a BA spokesman.
Talks between the union and BA managers are expected to be held next week, but Unite officials warned today that a fresh ballot for strikes could be held if there is no progress soon.
Unite claimed that BA last week rejected a compromise offer aimed at resolving the row over the removal of travel concessions for cabin crew who have been on strike.
Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, said in an email to members: "The union has made what we regard as helpful proposals for both parties to go to conciliation on the outstanding issues, and has made substantive proposals regarding the return of full travel concessions within a time-limited period and the involvement of Acas in disciplinary procedures.
"The company advised that all these proposals had been turned down. The possibility of balloting you once more on industrial action, after discussion with your representatives, remains an option very much on the table."
A Unite spokesman said that if BA continued to "delay" reaching a settlement, a strike ballot was "inevitable".
Cabin crew have taken 22 days of strike action since March, costing BA more than £150m.
The dispute was originally over BA's plans to slash costs by cutting the number of cabin crew, but a deal is now being held up because of the removal of travel perks and union anger at BA's disciplinary action against striking staff.
BA added: "We remain available for talks and believe that we have made a good and fair offer to cabin crew. Non-union cabin crew have signed up for the deal in large numbers."