BA union gathering support

British Airways Plc’s cabin-crew
union queried the security clearance of staff from across the company who’ve
volunteered to work during a three-day strike while enlisting foreign labour
groups to join in the dispute.

The Unite union has written to
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis asking him to check whether staff rostered to
crew planes in the walkout from 20 March have passed U.K. security checks that
usually take three months, together with vetting in destination countries.

“All we can do is raise our
concerns — whether other people want to take them on board is up to them,”
Unite Assistant General Secretary Len McCluskey said today in a telephone

Unite officials met with
counterparts from the Teamsters in Washington Wednesday, the U.S. union said in
a statement, citing links between the two via the International Transport
Workers Federation. The American group, which has 1.4 million members, didn’t
say how far cooperation might go. German union Ver.di also said it would lend
its support.

London-based British Airways said
its volunteer crews have been trained to the same standards as regular flight
attendants. Spokesman Tony Cane declined to comment on the likely impact of the
Teamsters’ involvement in the strike, saying it’s not clear what sort of
assistance is on offer.

The walkout over staffing levels
and pay, which may be followed by further action from 27 March, could cost
British Airways $160 million in total, according to Andrew Light, a
London-based analyst at Citigroup Inc.

 “ITF affiliates around the world are
mobilizing to support BA workers in their fight for passenger safety and worker
respect,” the Teamsters said in a statement.

General President James P. Hoffa
has been in touch with Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley regarding the
dispute, the statement said.

“It’s sad to see
Unite seeking backing from the Teamsters union overseas to support its
unjustified strikes against an iconic British brand,” BA’s Cane said in a phone