Sunday 21 January 2018

BA faces fresh strike vote by cabin crew

Steven Rothwell

British Airways faces a strike ballot of its 13,000 flight attendants next week after talks with the Unite union on staffing levels broke down.

Negotiations ended on January 15 and no date has been set for a further meeting, Unite spokeswoman Pauline Doyle said today in an e-mail. The talks began after a UK court last month declared an earlier vote for a Christmas walkout invalid.

“We have been engaged in intensive discussions over the last few days, but unfortunately we have not been able to secure an agreement yet,” Unite Assistant General Secretary Len McCluskey said in a statement. “We therefore have to honour our commitment to give our members the voice they were denied by the courts before Christmas, and hold a fresh ballot.”

Unite initially polled cabin crew on strike action after BA introduced new working practices in November that cut at least one flight attendant on long-haul flights from London’s Heathrow hub. Judge Laura Cox ruled that vote void on December 17 because the union included people who had agreed to leave the airline.

British Airways spokesman Philip Allport said the company couldn’t comment as it hadn’t yet received formal notification of the new ballot, which will commence in one week’s time.

Passenger traffic at the airline fell 4pc last month from a year earlier, the fifth consecutive monthly decline, as the labour dispute intensified.

BA reported a record £217m loss for the first half ended September 30, prompting Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh to deepen efforts to cut costs.

The 12-day strike planned for December 22 would have disrupted travel for more than 1 million people over the Christmas period.

BA was trading up 2.7pc at 197.6 pence as of 10:59am in London after earlier trading as much as 3.2pc higher. The stock has advanced 5.7pc this year.


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