UK govt to intervene in BA cabin crew strike
London, May 15, 2010
The British government is to intervene in a long-running dispute between British Airways' cabin crew and management in a bid to avert up to 20 days of planned strikes over the next month.
The industrial action by members of the Unite union, which represents about 90 per cent of BA's 12,000 cabin crew, begins with a five-day walkout from May 18-22, threatening renewed misery for travellers already hit by walkouts and disruption caused by volcanic ash.
"The secretary of state will be meeting both sides in this dispute separately next week to urge them to get back around the negotiating table and reach a settlement," a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Philip Hammond said on Saturday.
BA, which stopped a December strike through the courts, said on Friday it had applied for a High Court injunction to prevent the strikes, after finding an irregularity in how the union had conducted the ballot to strike. A similar move was used to block a rail strike earlier this year.
Before BA announced its intention to take legal action, both the airline and Unite had said they were ready to hold discussions, after a mediator invited the two sides to talk.
The industrial action follows seven days of walkouts in March which cost the airline GBP45 million ($65.61 million).
The strikes are part of a long-running disagreement over pay and conditions that stems from BA plans to save GBP62.5 million a year to counter falling demand, volatile fuel prices and greater competition. – Reuters