The Unite trade union yesterday announced it is to ballot 14,000 British Airways cabin crew for strike action after weeks of talks over BA’s plan to impose savage wage, pension and job cuts from November 16th.
Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said: ‘Unite is going to ballot our British Airways cabin crew members on industrial action.
‘BA management’s determination to impose unacceptable contractual changes on cabin crew leaves us no alternative.
‘We will strongly support our members if they vote for industrial action, while of course remaining ready to negotiate with the company.
‘Negotiation, not imposition, is the only proper way to conduct industrial relations.’
Steve Turner, Unite national officer for aviation, added: ‘We sought a mutually acceptable solution to this.
‘So we challenged their own agenda here.
‘There are two major disputes kicking off right now, one in the Post Office and one in British Airways.
‘And there’s one common denominator to both groups, and that’s the management team.
‘Their attitude and their approach to our members is completely and absolutely unacceptable.
‘Our members have had enough and we’ll be balloting them duly.’
The ballot is expected to take place next month and if the crew vote to strike, the airline could be grounded over the busy Christmas holiday period.
BA plans to shed 1,700 cabin crew jobs and freeze pay, as it continues its drive to reduce costs.
Staff who refuse to accept will be sacked.
The changes will reduce the number of cabin crew jobs from 14,000 to 12,300.
BA also plans to employ newcomers on half the current wage and pension.
Earlier this month Unite officials had called on BA to ‘pull back from the brink.’
The union denounced the airline’s ‘attempt to impose significant contractural changes on its 14,000 cabin crew employees, and introduce a second tier workforce on poorer pay and conditions.’
Unite said it ‘believes the new contractural changes are an attempt to force staff to pay the price for management failings with the company wringing more and more out of fewer and fewer staff who will be paid less.
‘Working hours will be extended, crew levels will be slashed, career opportunities will disappear and new starters will be brought in on bargain basement wages.
‘This will inevitably damage customer service and hit the brand, possibly leaving it beyond repair.’
Unite said last October 7th that ‘the airline must remove the imposed changes and resume talks or risk a serious, drawn out confrontation with its workforce.’
Unite national officer Turner said at the time: ‘This imposition is completely unacceptable.
‘It is a disgraceful attempt to intimidate workers into accepting poorer contracts. This imposition must be withdrawn.
‘BA must step back from the brink and get back round the table to talk.’
Brian Boyd, Unite national officer added: ‘Earlier this year, Unite tabled changes amounting to £140 million in savings for the business.
‘These were dismissed out of hand by BA’s management and now it is clear why.
‘Sadly, the company is not interested in compromise, preferring conflict with its workforce.’