Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

British Airways strike vote for cabin crew

Steve Turner of Unite: 'Our members will have their say' <p

British Airways cabin crew will vote again on possible strike action, the Unite union has announced.

Unite said a fresh ballot of its members would be held after recent talks with BA failed to find a resolution to a long-running dispute.

BA said it was "saddened but not surprised" by the decision, but vowed to continue talks.

A strike could begin as early as March if cabin crew vote in favour of industrial action.

A 12-day strike planned for Christmas last year was blocked by a court injunction, following irregularities in the original ballot of members.

The dispute stems from cost-cutting measures introduced by BA in November last year, which included cuts to cabin crew staffing levels and changes to working conditions.

BA said it was exploring all options in the event of any strike being called. One possibility is to train up existing members of staff to act as cabin crew.

Another is to lease third party aircraft from leasing companies which come with their own crews.

'Intensive discussions'

Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said that the decision to hold a new ballot followed "intensive discussions" with the company, which had failed to secure an agreement.

"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 for industrial action," he said.

We will not allow Unite to ruin this airline
BA statement

BA said the decision to call a ballot called into question Unite's "good faith" in the recent negotiations.

Both sides have expressed their desire to continue negotiations.

If cabin crew vote in favour of industrial action, a strike could not begin until March at the earliest, according to the BBC's transport correspondent Richard Scott.

The union could also choose to delay the strike until the Easter holidays in April to increase disruption.

Resolve questioned

It is not certain that cabin crew will vote in favour of a strike for a second time, however.

Following the previous ballot, some union members expressed alarm at the length and timing of the Christmas strike - details they said they had not been made aware of before voting.

But Steve Turner, Unite's national officer for aviation, said members' resolve was "as strong as ever".

"Our members are determined to fight back and we will support them every inch of the way," he said, saying they were angered by the way they had been treated by BA.

BA announced plans to cut the number of cabin crew on long-haul flights last year as a cost-cutting measure following huge losses at the airline.

Unite complained that it was not consulted on the move, which it said involved changes to staff contracts.

BA lost more than £400m last year, following the collapse in demand for air travel resulting from the recession.

In a statement, the airline said those financial pressures meant taking a "realistic" approach.

"We will not allow Unite to ruin this airline - and we believe we have the support of our customers and the vast majority of our staff in that objective," it said.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Financial TimesBA raises stakes by asking staff to retrain as cabin crew - 9 hrs ago
The Independent BA passengers face strike misery in Easter uprising - 10 hrs ago
The Scotsman Fresh ballot of BA cabin crew could see strikes during run-up to busy Easter period - 11 hrs ago
The Sun Union call for BA strike ballot - 22 hrs ago
Observer British Airways braced for March strike by cabin crew - 24 hrs ago
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