British Airways cabin crew have voted by a massive 92.5 per cent, in an over 80 per cent turnout, in favour of strike action over the imposition of 1,700 job cuts, a two per cent pay freeze and changes to staff contracts.
Announcing the strike vote, Unite assistant general secretary Len McCluskey told reporters: ‘It’s an incredibly high return by any standard and is an indication of how strongly they feel.’
He continued: ‘We will be advising British Airways that the strike will begin with a 12-day strike starting from December 22.
‘We are hoping of course, we can avoid that dispute.
‘We’re hoping that, even at this late stage, that British Airways will return to the negotiating table and try to resolve these outstanding issues.
‘Our joint general secretaries, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, both met with the chief executive last Friday, and asked exactly that, that we take a pause, that the company step back from this confrontation and that we try to discuss things in more detail.
‘That was turned down.
‘We’re hoping that the size of this vote will make the company think again.
‘The company have said that they value their staff.
‘Well, 92.5 per cent of their staff have said what is happening to them at the moment is wrong.
‘And they are calling on the company to sit down and start treating them with more dignity and more respect.’
He added: ‘We have taken this decision to disrupt passengers and customers over the Christmas period with a heavy heart.
‘We’re hoping the company can still avoid that happening.’
He declared: ‘We are ready to meet anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day to try to see if we can resolve the dispute.’
In answer to questions, he said: ‘People need to understand we’re not dealing with a group of mindless militants. We’re talking about decent men and women who perform a first class job and are very proud of their company.
‘They don’t want to bring British Airways down but they’ve been forced into a corner by the company.’
Describing BA’s intransigence as ‘crazy logic’, McCluskey went on to reveal that ‘the proposed cuts that we’ve put forward are twice as much as that of the pilots’, that ‘our costings are the savings we’ve put forward are in excess of £100m.’
The British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association, a section of Unite, said in a statement: ‘We are deeply saddened to have reached the point where we must take industrial action to get our voices heard, but feel that we have been left with no other choice.’