British Airways passengers face the
risk of strikes after cabin crew voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial
action over pay and conditions.
Unite said that 80 per cent of the
11,691 ballot papers issued were returned. Of those 78 per cent (7,482)
supported taking action with 1,789 voting against it.
Unite said it would not be
announcing any strike dates as it hoped to continue negotiations with BA.
The airline warned: “We will
not allow Unite to ruin this company.”
BA said some progress had been made
during recent talks but said it would do everything it could to protect
customers’ travel plans should strikes take place.
The union’s general secretary Len
McCluskey said the ballot result was “a clear indication of the deep sense
of grievance that our members feel”.
“We can only hope that BA
management will now recognise the only way to resolve this is through negotiation,
not through litigation and certainly not through intimidation,” he said.
Support for the strike was lower
than seen in an earlier ballot, which had a higher turnout and which saw 92 per
cent of those voting backing a strike. However that vote, which would have led
to stoppages over Christmas, was deemed illegal by the High Court.
Legally, the union must give a
week’s notice if it plans to take action – meaning strikes could begin from the
first week of March.
Unite has already pledged that
there will not be stoppages over the Easter period.
BA has already threatened to take
away generous travel perks for workers who do strike.
In November, BA reduced the number
of cabin crew on long haul flights from 15 to 14 and brought in a two-year pay
freeze from 2010.
The airline has also proposed new
contracts for fresh recruits and newly-promoted staff. These include a single
on-board management grade, no seniority, promotion on merit, and pay set at the
market rate plus 10 per cent.