Strike threat still on at BA as court date pushed to next year

BRITISH AIRWAYS&rsquo; (BA) staff will still be balloted on strike action over the Christmas period, despite the union&rsquo;s legal challenge to new contracts being delayed.<br /><br />The Unite union had requested a High Court injunction to block new working patterns, which BA is enforcing as it seeks desperately to cut costs at the airline, but the trial will now not happen until 1 February. <br /><br />Its staff yesterday grudgingly agreed to &ldquo;unwillingly&rdquo; work the new hours from 16 November, when they are introduced, but Unite stressed it would still ballot for industrial action. <br /><br />If the ballot is successful, cabin crew will down tools over the festive period; a massive blow to an airline which desperately needs passengers.<br /><br />The strike vote results will be known on 14 December.<br /><br />BA, which is poised to announced a second consecutive loss today for the first time since it was privatised in the 1980s, wants to cut the number of crew on its long-haul flights and freeze pay in a move which it says are essential for it to survive. Unite says the contract changes are illegal, and that it would seek damages &ldquo;for all of those working on crews which have had their numbers cut from 16 November&rdquo;.<br /><br />Following the court announcement, BA said it was pleased &ldquo;to be able to proceed with the changes we have announced to cabin crew working, which we have been discussing with Unite for the last nine months&rdquo;.<br /><br />It added that the changes were fair and reasonable, and called on Unite to&nbsp; end the strike ballot.