BA crew ready to strike again

    British Airways cabin crew voted
    for further industrial action Friday – but passengers were spared
    immediate disruption when the Unite trade union did not announce strike dates
    and called on BA to open negotiations.

    Len McCluskey, Unite’s general
    secretary designate, said BA management should “wake up and listen”,
    after nearly eight out of 10 crew members who took part in the ballot voted for
    strike action.

    “Surely BA management must now
    wake up and listen to the voice of their skilled and dedicated employees. This
    dispute will be resolved by negotiation, not litigation or confrontation, and
    it is to negotiation that BA management should now apply itself. We are
    ready,” he said.

    BA has pledged to operate 100 per
    cent of its long-haul services in the event of any industrial action, having
    built up an auxiliary workforce of thousands of crew, including more than 500
    retrained pilots.

    Those preparations have prompted
    Unite and its main cabin crew branch, Bassa, to delay announcing strike dates
    and plans for industrial action.

    BA cabin crew embarked on 22 days
    of strikes last year including walkouts in five-day blocks. Tactical
    discussions in recent weeks have looked at “guerrilla-style” action –
    though with no peace talks planned, conventional strikes have not been ruled
    out.

    Under trade union laws Unite must
    begin striking within 28 days, including seven days’ notice, which gives the
    union 21 days before it needs to announce dates.

    More than 10,000 crew members were
    balloted and 7,335 of them voted, representing a turnout of 75 per cent in a
    poll over sanctions against crew who took part in strikes last year. A majority
    of 78.5 per cent voted for industrial action, a result described by McCluskey
    as “overwhelming”. The previous strike vote, in February last year,
    attracted a marginally higher turnout and majority.

    Both sides are expected to resume
    peace talks.

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