British Airways workers begin a five-day strike

British Airways workers begin a five-day strike
# 24 May 2010 08:11 (UTC +04:00)
Baku - APA-Economics. British Airways’s 12,000 cabin crew members began a five-day strike last night, stepping up their protest against chief executive Willie Walsh’s plans to cut staffing and revise future pay grades, Boston Globe reported.

The airline has scrapped flights scheduled to carry 25,000 people a day, including 40 percent of long-haul services from London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.

Negotiations over the weekend to avert a strike failed, with Walsh saying the Unite union wanted to revisit proposals it had previously accepted. Union leader Tony Woodley said he would call off the walkout if the airline reinstated travel perks for some members.

This week’s walkout will be followed by two more, starting May 30 and June 7, unless a settlement is reached, the union said.

British Airways will use planes staffed by attendants who choose to ignore the stoppage, as well as eight aircraft and crews rented from charter companies to fly about 70 percent of customers who have tickets. It aims to operate 50 percent of short-haul services from Heathrow. The company also rebooked some passengers with other carriers.

The dispute flared up in November, when Walsh cut crew complements on long-haul flights without the union’s approval.

Unite said a new proposal from the airline could form the basis of a deal if the chief executive agrees to restore travel perks to workers who walked out in March. The union leader had previously demanded the airline reinstate people fired or suspended during the dispute.

Woodley accused BA of having a vindictive attitude after it revoked strikers’ low-cost travel, a cherished perk.

Walsh said the strikes are the fault of “a tiny minority who are clearly out of touch with reality.’’

BA posted a record annual loss of $611 million on Friday.