BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) executives stood firm on the airline’s approach to crippling cabin crew strikes yesterday after a room of angry shareholders criticised its stance on the matter.
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM), chief executive Willie Walsh and chairman Martin Broughton defended BA’s position on the 18-month long dispute and said the new offer made by management was a fair one.
A ballot on the latest pay offer currently circulating crew is expected to close 20 July. Walsh said he was confident staff would accept it.
He said that Unite had not distributed the ballot to crew at Gatwick Airport, signalling that support for the airline was continuing to grow.
“We believe this offer provides a genuine opportunity to end this dispute. It is both fair and reasonable and addresses the concerns existing crew may have,” said Walsh to shareholders.
But executives faced three hours of harsh criticism from over 400 shareholders, including some cabin crew, who accused BA’s management of lacking leadership in the face of the recession, as well as of continuing a campaign of bullying.
One pilot said: “The culture of BA management is not open. Instead they rely on bullying to get their way and the crew dispute is clear evidence of this.”
Shareholders were angered by the lack of a dividend payment this year, with one member claiming BA had made just a single payment since 2001. A spokesman for the airline said BA had made two payments, one in 2001 and one in 2008.
Meanwhile, news that BA will hold its next AGM in Madrid, with a video link to London, sent members reeling.