Cabin crew resumed their determined strike against British Airways’ attempted union-busting at Heathrow, Gatwick and the other airports at midnight last night.
They are taking four more days of strike action running until next Tuesday, defying BA boss Walsh’s attempted intimidation and vindictive attack on their travel allowances.
The dispute is costing the airline far more than Walsh has claimed, Unite said yesterday.
The seven days of strike action so far will cost the airline £100 million – twice the £7 million per day, or £49 million, that BA claimed it would lose earlier this week, the union said.
Unite stated: ‘For a company that claims to be on course for major losses this year, the financial logic of this costly dispute is puzzling in the extreme and suggests that BA’s management is actually pursuing another agenda, that of smashing union organisation at the airline.’
Earlier this week, BA wrote to cabin crew to inform them that their travel benefits would be withdrawn and they would ‘never’ get them back.
One crew member received a letter saying she was losing her travel benefits even though she was in hospital in the US recovering from a serious illness.
Nearly one third of crew depend on the travel assistance just to get to work, commuting to Heathrow from former BA bases in places such as Glasgow and Manchester.
Unite joint General Secretaries Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson wrote to each of their striking members yesterday, saying that there would be no settlement of the dispute unless the benefits were restored.
Simpson and Woodley wrote:
‘First of all we would like to once again congratulate you on your magnificent support for the strike action taken last weekend. . .
‘It is vital that you show continued commitment to our cause, and to gain the respect from your employer by supporting this strike.
‘We would therefore like to offer your union’s full support and assurance on two issues we know are of the utmost importance to you.
‘First, we repeat that the withdrawal of travel concessions from crew who have been on strike represents unacceptable anti-union bullying.
‘Any agreement to end this dispute must and will include a framework for the full restoration of those travel concessions.
‘Secondly, the company has vindictively acted to dock pay from crew not just for days taken on strike, but in some cases for longer periods, significantly impacting on your income.
‘Accordingly, Unite will pay strike pay at our agreed rate not just for days taken on strike, but for ALL days for which the employer has deducted wages as a result of the industrial action.
‘The union is discussing with your representatives an appropriate procedure on how best to do this.
Derek Simpson, Tony Woodley, Joint general secretaries.’
Events will be taking place during the course of the four day dispute at Bedfont FC.
On Saturday there will be an international picket as workers from Iberia airlines join cabin crew for a Spanish picket at Heathrow Airport from 1pm.