Woodley announces strike ballot for BA cabin crew

BA cabin crew in confident mood on the picket line at Heathrow last March
BA cabin crew in confident mood on the picket line at Heathrow last March

The Unite union for British Airways’ 11,000 cabin crew, yesterday confirmed that a fresh ballot for strike action at BA is soon to get underway.

At a press briefing, Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley spelt out: ‘BA’s continued hounding of union members leaves us no other option but to conduct a new strike ballot.’

He said: ‘We are now into the second year of our bitter dispute with British Airways.

‘Our members have been victimised and harassed.

‘The latest offer is not acceptable to our members, a point we made clear to the airline earlier this month.

‘Regrettably, we have not found it possible to resolve the outstanding issues concerning cabin crew since then.’

He said that ‘despite our going to talks at ACAS next Monday, the ballot will now be finalised to overcome any problems with the courts.’

Woodley said BA had got rid of 1,350 workers and employed 2000 on lower wages.

He stressed: ‘Members are still being victimised and harassed, even disciplined.

‘The last straw, was when only recently a cabin crew member, who is highly respected, who was drumming up support for members who have been sacked, was suspended.

‘It was found there was no case to answer, and fortunately the lady is now back in work.’

Woodley continued: ‘BA told us it was a business in crisis. They demanded structural change.

‘These changes have been made and this business is now in profit with senior management filling their wallets with the spoils.

‘Yet BA is determined to continue with this vicious war against its workforce.

‘It is time for BA to put its passengers first – and the best way to achieve this is to resolve the issues between us, which would not cost BA a single penny and yet would bring priceless stability and peace to the company.’

He continued: ‘This airline has conducted a year-long assault on cabin crew collectively and on many of them as individuals.

‘We will not stand by while this airline bullies our members out of their jobs, and if it takes strike action to bring BA management to its senses, then that is the road we must, regretfully, travel.’

Woodley outlined the specific issues the Unite cabin crew branch BASSA shop stewards have objected to and that BA should address to solve the dispute:

• an immediate restoration of staff travel concessions, in full, to the crew from whom they were taken by BA;

• binding arbitration, through ACAS, of all cabin crew disciplinary cases related to the dispute;

• restoration of the wages docked from crew who were genuinely off sick during strike dates;

• full and proper discussion of the trade union facilities agreement at the company with the immediate removal of all threats and sanctions made by BA in relation to this.

Explaining the decision not to put the latest deal to a ballot, Woodley said that ‘we soon found out’ there was very little support and it was ‘a difficult job’ to sell the deal to BASSA members, it was ‘mission impossible’.

He pledged: ‘We will not go over the heads of our shop stewards.

‘Only when people agree, will we accept the deal.’