The Struggle Continues: Cabin Crew Vote ‘Yes’ To Strike Action.

For the fourth time in 13 months British Airways cabin crew have voted over whelming to take strike action. The ballot released on Friday returned a 78.5% vote in favour of strike action in a turnout of 7,335 members.

Readers of Air Strike will recall the original dispute with British Airways was over the issue of imposition of changes to cabin crew’s employment contract. This strike ballot is largely around issues that have arisen out of the original industrial action taken by cabin crew last year. According to a pre ballot letter sent by Unite national officers to BA management in November this industrial ballot will demand the following terms from management.

  • An immediate restoration of staff travel concessions, in full, to the crew from whom they were taken by BA
  • Binding arbitration, through ACAS, of all cabin crew disciplinary cases related to the dispute
  • Restoration of the wages docked from crew who were genuinely off sick during strike dates
  • Full and proper discussion of the trade union facilities agreement at the company with the immediate removal of all threats and sanctions made by BA in relation to this.

At the time of writing Unite has not announced dates for strike action. Commenting on the ballot result Unite General Secretary elect called for BA management to come to the negotiating table; “Surely BA management must now wake up and listen to the voice of their skilled and dedicated employees. This dispute will be resolved by negotiation, not litigation or confrontation, and it is to negotiation that BA management should now apply itself.  We are ready.” This call was echoed by BASSA branch secretary Duncan Holley.

Banking on management opening negotiations in the face of an overwhelming ballot may explain the delay in calling strike action. Given the past behaviour of BA management failure to enter into serious negotiations this is may well prove to be a vain hope.

Much of management propaganda in the course of the dispute has centred on the supposed financial difficulties of the company. BA has now returned to profitability and yet it continues to obstruct a resolution of this dispute and persecute trade union activists. It is a transparent case of union busting on the part of BA management. Should BA cabin crew decide to take strike action they will have the support of the labour movement behind them once again to defeat this intransigent management vendetta against trade unionism.

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