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COMPLAINT: British Airways cabin crew vote to strike over Christmas holidays

 
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  #1  
Old Dec 14, 2009, 5:59 PM
AirlineComplaints.org AirlineComplaints.org is offline
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http://edition.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS...lot/index.html

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British Airways passengers face the prospect of holiday season chaos after cabin crew voted to strike for almost two weeks over Christmas and New Year in protest over cost-cutting measures introduced by the airline. More than 12,500 BA employees, balloted by trade union Unite in November, voted by a 92.5 percent majority to walk out from December 22 for 12 days, Unite Deputy General Secretary Len McCluskey announced Monday.

In a statement to customers on its Web site, BA said it was reworking its flight schedules for the strike period and would announce them as quickly as possible. It said it would inform affected customers by e-mail or text message.

The strike ballot came after the airline introduced cost-cutting measures including a two-year pay freeze and reducing the numbers of cabin crew members on long-haul flights.

BA says the changes, introduced in the wake of a record pre-tax loss of more than $485 million for the six months from April to September, will save the airline $665 million.

McCluskey warned that the strike would inflict "catastrophic damage" to the airline if it went ahead and urged British Airways bosses to return to the negotiating table. He said union members had been pushed into a corner by BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh.

"We've been saying to Mr. Walsh this seems crazy at a time when British Airways is suffering badly through an economic downturn that he should force us into a dispute that would have catastrophic effects on the economy of the company," McCluskey told CNN following a news conference at Sandown Racecourse, southern England.

"That's why we're hoping that even at this late hour the strength of feeling of our members will get through to the company. We are available 24 hours a day to meet the company. If they are up for getting an agreement I'm confident we can get one."

McCluskey said passengers, upset at having their holiday plans disrupted, should take their anger out on the airline. McCluskey said his members were not "mindless militants" but decent men and women who had been forced into a corner by British Airlines.

But Walsh said strike action was "completely unjustified" and called on union chiefs to resume negotiations. He said the airline had agreed pay cuts with pilots and more efficient ways of working with engineers, while a third of managers had taken voluntary redundancy.

BA cut 1,900 jobs over the summer through reduced overtime, increased part-time working, and voluntary redundancies. But it plans to eliminate 3,000 more jobs by March 2010, Walsh said last month.

"My admiration for the professionalism and skills of British Airways cabin crew is second to none. They are an absolutely vital part of our airline, and a great asset," Walsh said. "But they have been disgracefully misled by Unite as to how our company-wide cost reduction program would affect them."

CNN's Richard Quest said the impact of the potential strike would be devastating for BA and said the consequences would be disruption for BA passengers and higher prices for travelers booking on other airlines.
"Their planes are heaving and they are now about to face a strike," Quest said. "They are going to have tens of thousands of passengers who are concerned, who are worried. I imagine anyone who is going away for Christmas is now thinking about shifting their booking if they can."

A spokesperson for ABTA, which represents travel agencies and tour operators in the UK, said passengers booked onto BA flights should wait and see what contingency plans the airline puts in place and whether the strike goes ahead.

"Hopefully the strike could be called off and if you cancel your flight now then you may not be able to claim a refund," she said.

Unite has called on the High Court to rule on whether BA's cutbacks have breached its member's contracts but the case is not scheduled to be heard until February 2010.
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  #2  
Old Dec 15, 2009, 10:51 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
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Obviously, they are trying to get the company to cave in. No better time to try a strike than over the biggest holiday of the year. In this case, I'd say they have the company by the short hairs and will probably at least get some sort of concession. Pretty tacky of them to threaten to do this and completely screw thousands and thousands of people though. They could have waited until after the holiday to flex their mighty unity.
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  #3  
Old Dec 15, 2009, 2:47 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by The_Judge View Post
Obviously, they are trying to get the company to cave in. No better time to try a strike than over the biggest holiday of the year. In this case, I'd say they have the company by the short hairs and will probably at least get some sort of concession. Pretty tacky of them to threaten to do this and completely screw thousands and thousands of people though. They could have waited until after the holiday to flex their mighty unity.
The same tactic was used this year by grocery workers for two of Arizona's biggest chains. Even though they had been working without a contract for months they called for a strike one week before Thanksgiving. The companies and the union reached an agreement with only hours left until the strike deadline.

I think that's what will happen with the BA situation. Can you imagine the chaos if BA starts massive flight cancellations? With all of the capacity cuts over the past year or so other airlines simply won't have the seats to accommodate all of the displaced BA passengers. If it does happen it's gonna be messy!
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Old Dec 15, 2009, 5:59 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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I don't have the background on BA vs Labor. From my experience, a union usually doesn't pull a stunt like that, unless they're tired of the company fooling around. My wife worked without a contract for two years, until they got tired of the company messing about, and threatened to strike at a time that would have hurt the company.
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Old Dec 15, 2009, 8:03 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Yeah, but BA don't have the option of going "bankrupt", running away from their contractual obligations to staff and suppliers, then "emerging" with anti-trust immunity to take over NWA, becoming the largest airline in the world as a reward. So I guess it is not so easy in Europe.
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Old Dec 16, 2009, 1:25 PM
NewJerseyDevils NewJerseyDevils is offline
 
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Originally Posted by PHXFlyer View Post
The same tactic was used this year by grocery workers for two of Arizona's biggest chains. Even though they had been working without a contract for months they called for a strike one week before Thanksgiving. The companies and the union reached an agreement with only hours left until the strike deadline.

I think that's what will happen with the BA situation. Can you imagine the chaos if BA starts massive flight cancellations? With all of the capacity cuts over the past year or so other airlines simply won't have the seats to accommodate all of the displaced BA passengers. If it does happen it's gonna be messy!
The difference is BA flight attendants do have a contract and they are going on strike anyways. They will bankrupt the airlines and if they are complaining now about passing out drinks how will they like selling lottery tickets on Ryanair.
I just flew with them and the tension in the cabin was bad. You have to get your own drinks now, no biggie but my IFE wasn't working and there was no way I was going to say anything. This guy asked for new earphones and the FA almost bit his head off saying it's 4am UK time.
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Old Dec 16, 2009, 4:05 PM
mars6423 mars6423 is offline
 
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lets go devils!!

I was at EWR newark int airport last night and when i entered term B to go upto arrivals you passby the BA check in desk (it is downstairs rather than on the third floor/top where most check in desks are....kind of confusing to find if you dont know the airport) and the workers seemed to be a lil stressed out more than usual and it maybe due to their status
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Old Dec 17, 2009, 3:53 AM
Leatherboy2006 Leatherboy2006 is offline
 
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If they had a contract they would not be in talks with the company, their contract is probably amendeable right now and being redone. While it might ruin the holidays for many people, its actually a good union move. If they wait till after the holidays they have less bargining power then they have during holidays. If they wait till after BA can just say so what go on strike its the slow period.
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Old Dec 17, 2009, 5:25 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Strike called off due to court order following ballot irregularities. Christmas and New Year is safe, but probably be fresh ballot in the New Year... at least your christmas is safe!
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Old Dec 17, 2009, 6:25 PM
Leatherboy2006 Leatherboy2006 is offline
 
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Reading in an article that earlier the High Court ruled against cabin crew in regard to changes in work rules. Sounds like the High Court is pro company and anti labor.
I am hoping the cabin crews do what airline employee friends of mine told me about called "working by the rules"
Todays ruling is a slap in the face to the working class, people working for large companies should be very concerned.
USA presidents have set a bad example to by ordering airline employees back to work and rules that don't allow strikes in other work places.
Where's Joe Hill when we need him.
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Old Dec 17, 2009, 8:21 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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I haven't been able to find a clear cut reason for the strike. More money (from an almost broke airline)? Benefits? Safety?
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Old Dec 18, 2009, 12:07 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Leatherboy,
That is not exactly what happened. In the UK, to call a strike in a large company the union must ballot all eligible employees before going on strike. If more than 50% vote in favour, the strike can go ahead. What happened here was that 800 ex-employees of BA were included in the ballot, as they had recently accepted voluntary redundancy. The court ruled that the union had not followed the rules and ordered the union to cancel the strike. The union is now faced with having to re-run the ballot.

The courts have no powers to intervene in the fundamentals of the dispute itself. The ruling was entirely procedural, so it is not correct to suggest that the courts are "pro-company" and "anti-labour". However, so overwhelming was the ballot verdict, I doubt that even if the 800 ballots were excluded, the outcome would have been any different. BA have dodged a bullet, but more because of the imcompetence of the union leadership than for any other reason.

Gromit,
The strike is not over pay. In fact, BA Cabin Crew are the highest paid in the industry, with an average wage out of LHR of 29,500 ($40,000+ approx). A cabin manager can earn up to 50K. BA have imposed a cut in the numbers of cabin crew on Transatlantic and Long Haul routes from 15 per flight to 14. This was imposed when the negotiations deadlocked and the unions are objecting to the airline imposing conditions without agreement.
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Old Dec 18, 2009, 2:06 AM
Leatherboy2006 Leatherboy2006 is offline
 
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Thank you for clearing that up Jim, I grew up in the very heavy unionized city of Chicago (in the 1970's), the unions would not be bullied by government or the large companies and goddess save you if you decided to scab.
Its been very different being in Texas which is a right to work state, and not for the better.
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Old Dec 18, 2009, 8:20 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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I used to work in South Carolina which was the same.. it was outrageous. They could fire you for no reason whatsoever... butI think the union misjudged this badly. The extent of the strike was an over-reaction and the management of the ballot was a mess!
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Old Dec 18, 2009, 1:51 PM
NewJerseyDevils NewJerseyDevils is offline
 
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Originally Posted by mars6423 View Post
lets go devils!!

I was at EWR newark int airport last night and when i entered term B to go upto arrivals you passby the BA check in desk (it is downstairs rather than on the third floor/top where most check in desks are....kind of confusing to find if you dont know the airport) and the workers seemed to be a lil stressed out more than usual and it maybe due to their status
Marty's better!!!
I've missed the little British Air check in sign a couple of times.
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Old Dec 18, 2009, 3:49 PM
mars6423 mars6423 is offline
 
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yeah it is very poorly sign posted, i believe that on the check-in floor there is one or two SMALL signs that says that BA check in is downstairs.......while it is downstairs you have to go down 2 floors to the ground level.....which is a little decieving since youd think it was 1 floor instead of going down two...........and it is somewhat tucked away


goin to the game tonight?
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  #17  
Old Aug 10, 2010, 11:13 PM
BAStew BAStew is offline
 
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Get ready for more strikes this Christmas. Word on the ground is that the union feels that the only option left to them is to go out then in the hope that the office scabs won't want to fly and be away from their families.

The sooner Walsh goes, the better.
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