Unite, the union representing British Airways’ cabin crew, is expected to announce plans for a new strike ballot today, leaving passengers facing a summer of chaos.
Tony Woodley, Unite’s joint general secretary, will announce at the union’s first policy conference in Manchester that a ballot could take place as early as next week due to BA management’s ongoing “bullying” tactics, which are currently the sticking point in negotiations between the two sides.
The union wants travel perks restored to 3,000 cabin crew that went on strike and pledged to suspend the final five day stoppage in order to conclude a deal with the airline if such action were taken. BA sources told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that they believed it was only an offer to restart negotiations over cost-cutting, however.
Cabin crew are currently halfway through the second of three five day strikes. The last walk-out begins on Saturday and is scheduled to finish at the end of the following Wednesday.
A fresh ballot would be necessary because the 12-week protective period for the union’s current industrial action ends in early June. But union sources told the Telegraph that Unite was considering switching tactics over the summer and could use its fresh mandate to undertake guerrilla action with a series of one-day strikes.
Woodley is also expected to call on the Labour leadership to take action to “scrap the anti-union laws” that it did little to repeal whilst in government, however. “The right to strike is hanging by a thread at the mercy of employers who would rather sue than settle”, he will say.
Unite claims that industrial action has so far cost BA a huge £98 million.