Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Support for British Airways cabin crew strike grows

James P Hoffa of Teamster warns BA on using "untrained scabs"

The planned walk-out by British Airways cabin crew has gained support from a growing number of unions representing workers at airports around the world.

Unions representing ground staff in the US, France and Germany have pledged their solidarity for the strike.

When asked whether BA flights could be disrupted by action at US airports, US union leader James Hoffa said: "Whatever we have to do, we will do."

However, it is unclear what form any such action could legally take.

BA says it will be able to fly 65% of passengers during the action by Unite.

The planned three-day walk-out over cost cutting is due to start on Saturday and is expected to be followed by four days of action from 27 March.

'Management bluff'

Mr Hoffa, president of the US International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said his members were considering how they could assist Unite.

The time to reach out is not when you need an ally, but when you might be able to do something to start building a relationship
Professor Harley Shaiken, University of California

Meanwhile, a three-day strike by Air France cabin crew over working conditions has been planned for 28 March to coincide with Unite's action.

A spokesman for six French unions told the Daily Telegraph they would do anything they could to support BA's staff.

In Germany, an official from the ver.di service workers union said: "We want Unite to succeed, if it emerges from these talks that something is needed at this or that airport at this or that time, we will do it."

BA claims up to 1,000 employees have offered to stand in for those who strike and expects that number to rise further.

The airline said it was "pleased" the number of other airlines offering to help fly passengers during the strike had increased from 50 on Monday to more than 60.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "I am delighted by the numbers of cabin crew who have been getting in touch with us to express their disillusion with Unite's position.

"Our crews just want to work as normal, do their usual terrific job and look after our customers.

"We will now have the potential to fly more than 4,000 additional customers per day and serve more destinations."

But Unite accused the management of "bluffing" and said only 350 volunteers were prepared to stand in for the strikers.

It also wants the government to investigate the "rushing through" of volunteer staff.

BA says the majority of the extra staff were existing cabin crew employees, not retrained office staff.

There have been no indications of any fresh talks planned between the two sides in the dispute.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian.co.uk BA strike to go ahead after talks collapse - 2 hrs ago
Ananova 'D-Day' For Cabin Crew As BA Walkout Looms - 5 hrs ago
Business Day BA desperate as Unite gets foreign backup - 12 hrs ago
New StatesmanBA strike gets international support, amid claims that staff will defy it - 22 hrs ago
This is Money Global strike threatens BA passengers - 25 hrs ago
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