Unite: BA strike ballot is inevitable

UNITE, the union representing British Airways (BA) cabin crew, has warned that a further strike ballot is “inevitable” with the Christmas holidays the next likely target for industrial action.

Yesterday up to 2,000 members of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), the BA crew branch of Unite, met at Kempton Park Racecourse to debate whether or not to launch another strike ballot.

Union members voted to go ahead with the ballot, leaving the final decision to launch the poll with Unite’s joint general secretaries Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.

Unite is to meet with BA next week in Manchester at the Trade Union Congress in a bid to settle the long standing dispute, which has already seen crew cause disruption to BA passengers and cost the airline more than £150m.

BA management and Unite remain at odds over disciplinary actions taken by the airline during the previous 22-day strike period and the removal of travel perks from striking crew.

A spokesperson from BA said: “We continue to be in contact with Unite. We have received no notification of any ballot for industrial action. Unite’s crew branch BASSA has been talking about a ballot for the last three months. It does not have the authority to call a ballot.”

Should the vote for further industrial action go through, BA’s Christmas operations could be severely disrupted causing headaches for the airline’s passengers.

The news comes as BA chief executive Willie Walsh has outlined his plans to significantly expand the airline’s footprint.

Walsh has already drawn up a shortlist of 12 possible airlines BA could merge with once the American Airlines and Iberia tie-ups are complete.

BA also signed a codesharing agreement with India’s Kingfisher Airlines to share flights between the UK, Europe, India and Sri Lanka.