British Airways strikes to start next week

Grand Cayman flights could be affected

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British Airways cabin crew have
announced a strike for a total of 20 days over the next month, starting next Tuesday.

The action could affect flights to
and from London’s Heathrow Airport, including those from Grand Cayman, during
the busy May mid-term school break.

 The Unite union announced Monday that 81 per
cent of its crew had voted for further strike action last week after turning
down an offer from British Airways.

The latest series of five-day
strikes are mooted for: 18 to 22 May; 24 to 28 May; 30 May to 3 June; 5 June to
9 June.

These dates will drastically affect
travel during the bank holiday at the end of May and half-term school holidays
should the strikes go ahead.

The Unite union said that they had
been left with no alternative but to walk out, alleging that their own approach
to resolve matters had been rejected over the weekend.

 “The seven-days’ notice period is sufficient
time for BA management to do the sensible thing and reopen meaningful
negotiations,” said joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley in
a statement.

Disappointed

The British Airways website said
Monday that at the moment all flights were operating as normal. The carrier
said that it would update as soon as further details became available.

“We are disappointed that Unite,
the trade union for British Airways cabin crew, has announced that it intends
to take further strike action.

“We are currently considering our
response so we can minimise any disruption during this strike period,” read the
statement online.

Dispute

The ongoing dispute came to a head
late last year over staffing levels on long-haul flights. The latest offer by
BA partially addressed the staff cuts but the union rejected it because it did
not reinstate a discounted travel scheme that was removed from 5,000 staff that
had joined the March strikes.

Disciplinary action for 55 staff
also ensued from the March walkouts, which cost the airline an estimated $57
million. However, these union members will not be reinstated, said BA. These
two issues have undermined a broader consensus that looked like being reached
on staff levels and working conditions.

“There can be no industrial peace
without meaningful negotiations and while management victimises trade unionists
and uses disciplinary procedures in a witch-hunt,” said Unite.

Disruption

The carrier said that it was
saddened but not surprised that the union had announced further plans for what
it called ‘extensive disruption’. It said that it could affect hundreds of
thousands of customers over the May half-term holidays.

“This decision has no semblance of
justification. Unite’s officials continue to operate in their own world,
showing callous disregard for our customers and their own members in all parts
of our airline.

“We have made a very fair offer,
which meets the concerns the union raised during 14 months of negotiations and
also ensures that our crew remain the best rewarded in the UK airline
industry. That offer remains available.

“We are confident that many crew
will again ignore Unite’s pointless strike call and support the efforts of the
rest of the airline to keep our customers flying.”

Developed

British Airways said that flights
from Gatwick and London City airport would not be affected.

Should the strike go ahead,
however, it will affect some flights to and from Heathrow airport.  That could include flights between Grand
Cayman, Nassau and the UK.

The airline has been retraining
other staff to act as cabin crew and since the first threatened strikes were
averted over Christmas 2009 a contingency plan has been developed.

“We are speaking to a number of
carriers about leasing in extra aircraft to support our short haul schedule and
also obtaining thousands of seats from other airlines to help our customers
rebook if their original flight is cancelled.

“We will give more details four or
five days before the strike is due to begin when we will announce the exact
details of our revised Heathrow schedule,” said a statement Monday.

The airline must offer a refund or
a re-routed flight under European Union law which also says that compensation
of up to $722 must be offered if a flight is cancelled.

Travel insurance bought before
Monday’s announcement may also pay out due to this industrial action but
different insurers have different policies.

Passengers booked during the strike
dates are advised to keep checking the British Airways website for updates.

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BA planes are set to be grounded again for a total of 20 days.
Photo: File
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1 COMMENT

  1. Selfish, selfish, selfish! They should all be thankful to have jobs in this economic climate. Everybody in every business has had to make pay-cuts and people redundant, they get paid better than any other air crew! Striking in the half term holidays ruining thousands of family holidays is just mean and also striking just before the World Cup when people have saved money to go on this once in a lifetime trip is just beyond words.

    The public just won’t book their flights with British Airways anymore and then nobody will have jobs. They are cutting their noses off to spite their face. Get real BA staff and think about what you are really doing, except the cuts and just get on with it!

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