The union that represents British Airways’ cabin crew members announced on Monday that the employees had voted to strike again. This is the fourth time in two years that the crew has voted in favour of industrial action, though a date isn’t specified yet.
British Airways’ cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly in the favour of a strike for the fourth time in two years, potentially crippling Easter holidays for many a vacationers.
Unite, the union that represents the majority of BA’s cabin crew, said that more than 80 percent of BA cabin crew who returned valid voting papers voted in favour of taking industrial action against the UK’s national airline.
The dates of the industrial action are yet to be announced by Unite but it is feared that the strike is going to disrupt the travel plans of people who have already landed up with tickets on cheap flights during Easter holidays.
The conflict, which began in 2009, was originally regarding the pay and working conditions of the crew members. But now the dispute centres on the decision of the airline to take away travel perks from staff who took part in prior strikes. Last year, cabin crew staged a walkout for a total of 22 days. This resulted in great chaos at different airports as number of flights were grounded or delayed. It cost the airline an estimated £150m.
Apart from the very apparent financial hit, it is believed that British Airways’ image has taken a beating with uncertainty looming large on strikes and passengers shying away from booking tickets on BA flights. Various airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates are understood to have benefited from the ongoing conflict between BA and Unite.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite was quoted by several news portals as stating, “This vote shows that cabin crew remain determined to win justice. We urge BA’s boardroom to see this as a clear message that they must think again about how to regain the trust and confidence of a significant part of their cabin crew operation.” Mr McCluskey also added, “We continue to be in discussions with the company to find a solution to this long-running dispute.”
To this BA replied with a statement saying, “We began talks with Unite earlier this month, and those talks are continuing. We hope they will bring an end to this dispute, which is what the overwhelming majority of our cabin crew want.”
Keith Williams, BA’s new chief executive, assured that in case of a strike taking place the airline will maintain all of its long-haul flights from Heathrow, as well as the regular services from Gatwick and London City. He also said that BA will run “a substantial proportion” of its European flights.
However, Mr McCluskey doesn’t seem to agree with Mr Williams. “He has no way of knowing what weird and wondrous initiatives we might take should we engage in industrial action,” Mr McCluskey was quoted as stating.
Strike during Easter Holidays?
Although Unite is yet to announce the strike dates, speculation is rife that industrial action could take place during the Easter break, ruining holiday plans of holiday makers who have already booked tickets on cheap flights. Even visitors flying in for the royal wedding next month could be affected by this prospective move of the union. The union is required to give a week’s notice before any strike, which it hasn’t done so far.
British Airways is under no obligation to pay compensation to customers affected by a strike; however the airline is expected to take care of passenger care obligations such as providing meals or accommodation.
However, it has to be said that even just a threat of a strike is set to create ambiguity among several travellers, adversely hitting at the bookings of British Airways.