British Airways will face strike action by cabin crew and flight attendants at Christmas if it does not ‘pull back from the brink’, from imposing job and pay cuts and changes in work patterns, the Unite union warned yesterday.
A mass meeting of nearly 3,000 cabin crew and flight attendant members of Unite at a Sandown Park hotel voted in a show of hands to press ahead with a strike ballot.
Unite said it will announce the result of the ballot on 14 December.
Predicting a massive ‘Yes’ vote, similar to the 96 per cent vote in 2007, Unite said the earliest date for a strike will be 21 December.
Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said after the mass meeting: ‘There is a mood of anger, a sense of injustice amongst our members.
‘British Airways management have decided to impose changes without reaching a satisfactory negotiated settlement.
‘Our members are very, very angry. We’re expecting a very resounding “Yes” vote to take industrial action.
‘We hope it doesn’t come to that, that British Airways management will take a step back and will negotiate a settlement and common sense will prevail.’
McCluskey pointed out: ‘For the past nine months it’s been the union side that’s put forward all kinds of suggestions to save huge amounts of money.
‘It’s the company that are intent in not having meaningful negotiations and of imposition.’
He stressed: ‘The reality is we put proposals on the table that saved, from this part of BA’s employees alone, nearly £100 million worth of savings.
‘So what we’re saying to the company is embrace those savings, talk with us about future changes.
‘Review the situation that takes place within civil aviation and let’s move forward together, as opposed to this confrontational style that unfortunately British Airways management are portraying at the moment.’
He warned: ‘Cabin crew will not stand by while the service they provide proudly, and which is the core of BA’s appeal to customers, is cut to the bone.’
Unite is also seeking a High Court injunction to stop the changes but BA says it will fight the application, arguing that it hasn’t broken any contracts.
• Unite members have voted to take industrial action on jobs, pay and pensions at the Fujitsu IT services company in the UK, the union announced yesterday.
There was a majority of 74 per cent voting for strike action and 92 per cent voting for industrial action short of a strike in the ballot.
Unite senior reps in Fujitsu were meeting yesterday to determine what action will take place.
Some 4000 employees in the main defined benefit pension plan are being hit by the company’s plans to close the scheme to future accrual.
The company intends to force this through by dismissing employees after the end of the consultation period in November, and offering them employment on new contracts which are unchanged except in relation to pensions.
The union estimates that the proposed pension scheme change would reduce the total pay package of each employee by typically around 20 per cent.
The company imposed a pay freeze on UK staff earlier this year just a week before it was due to take effect, withdrawing promised pay rises to employees.
In late August, Fujitsu announced proposals for 1200 redundancies in the UK and has since put 6,000 people at risk of redundancy, amounting to 50 per cent of its UK workforce.