British Airways (BA) has slammed Unite’s ‘callous disregard’ for air travellers, after the union urged its members to reject a new pay deal from BA boss, Willie Walsh. The move could result in industrial action from the 14th May onwards, with walkouts lasting between ten and twelve days.
Willie Walsh once claimed that Unite is trying to ‘ruin’ British Airways. Despite the union’s protestations, the longer that BA is held to ransom by its own staff, the more likely it is that the airline will be toppled by debts and tribunals. Unite clearly have the upper hand, but that hasn’t stopped the union launching a fresh attack on Britain’s flag-carrier.
Unite was responsible for strikes totalling seven days during March, costing BA around £45m. Not to be outdone, the airline retaliated, and revoked all travel perks for striking staff, including free travel. The move was seen as an act of desperation at the time, but BA’s revenge struck an unexpected chord with staff members.
Yesterday, Unite demanded that BA reinstate all employee benefits, in addition to the demands that it has made in previous months. The request directly precipitated Unite’s call for its members to reject BA’s latest pay deal, and could result in further strikes throughout May and June. BA cannot afford any more setbacks, however.
The recent eruption of the Eyjafjoll volcano stripped an estimated £100m from BA’s bank balance, and £2.15bn from the European aviation industry as a whole. Unite remains unsympathetic. Casual observers could be forgiven for thinking that Unite is trying to punish BA’s hubris, rather than protecting the interests of its members.
Unite recently founded the specialist cabin crew branch, BASSA, otherwise known as the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association. Despite its name, the department exists solely for the protection of BA cabin crew, and is currently polling its members for opinions on the length of future strikes.