Solidarity Magazine » British Airways Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Unite and British Airways reach agreement on cabin crew Fri, 13 May 2011 17:15:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 12 May 2011

Unite the union and British Airways have reached an agreement to resolve the long-running cabin crew dispute at the airline, the union announced today (Thursday). The agreement is to be put to a ballot of Unite cabin crew members over the next month, with a union recommendation for acceptance. In the meantime, the union has decided not to call any industrial action at the airline based on its present ballot mandate.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who led negotiations for the union, said today:

We always said that this dispute could only be settled by negotiation, not by confrontation or litigation. And so it has proved.

We are delighted to have reached an agreement which I believe recognises the rights and dignity of cabin crew as well as the commercial requirements of the company. This agreement will allow us to go forward in partnership together to strengthen this great British company – good news for BA, its employees and its customers alike.

I am particularly pleased that staff travel concessions will be restored in full with the signing of the agreement and the implementation of the new structure for working together that we have negotiated. A customer-oriented business can only succeed with all its employees valued and respected.

And above all I would like to pay tribute to Unite’s BA cabin crew members. Their resilience, discipline and determination to be treated properly has been an inspiration to all who have worked alongside them in this dispute and has been a model of twenty-first century trade unionism. They deserve this agreement and the prosperous future at British Airways I hope it secures.”

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BA vote shows cabin crew remain determined Mon, 28 Mar 2011 17:10:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 28 March 2011

British Airways cabin crew, who are members of Unite the union, have voted to back strike action at the airline. Of the just under 10,000 crew polled, some 83 per cent of the 6,981 who returned valid voting papers voted yes to strike action.

Unite said this vote – the fourth official ballot in two years – reflects the continued resilience among the crew who were being balloted on a range of anti-union management measures including sanctions applied to some 6,700 crew who took lawful strike action last year.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: “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.

“We continue to be in discussions with the company to find a solution to this long-running dispute.”

The number of ballot papers returned was 6,985 but with four of those invalid, the total valid vote was 6,981.

Of this,

  • 5,811 crew voted YES to strike action
  • 1,170 crew voted NO to strike action

There were four invalid ballot papers. The turnout was 72 percent.

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British Airways cabin crew ballot result Fri, 21 Jan 2011 17:55:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 21 January 2011

British Airways cabin crew members of Unite have voted in support of industrial action by a huge margin.

Unite balloted 10,220 cabin crew. They voted as follows on the question “are you prepared to take part in strike action”:

  • Number of ballot papers returned = 7,335
  • Number of ballot papers found to be invalid = 5
  • Total number of papers counted = 7,330
  • Number voting YES = 5,751 (78.5% of valid vote)
  • Number voting NO = 1,579 (21.5%)

Unite general secretary-designate Len McCluskey said today: “For the fourth time in 13 months British Airways cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly in support of their union and expressed their dissatisfaction with management behaviour. Indeed, the turnout and the majority on this occasion are much greater than in the last ballot.

Surely BA management must now wake up and listen to the voice of its 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.”

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New ballot of cabin crew begins at British Airways Tue, 21 Dec 2010 16:19:03 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 21 December 2010

Cabin crew at British Airways will start to vote today (Tuesday) in a fresh ballot for industrial action at the airline said their union, Unite.

Voting papers are being sent to more than 10,000 cabin crew at BA as the dispute between the parties deepens over punishments imposed on crew, a new tier of crew introduced on poorer terms but without the workforce’s agreement and concerns about an organised anti-union campaign at the airline.

Tony Woodley, Unite joint general secretary, said: “When this dispute started, the issue was making savings to help the company through a very difficult period for the industry. The union offered multi-million pound concessions which all but met management’s requirements. BA however preferred imposition, provoking a dispute which has cost the company vastly greater sums and done great damage to its reputation. The dispute has been prolonged by vindictive measures directed against cabin crew – in recent months, BA has put nearly 70 loyal workers through hell and sacked 13 of them because they supported their union. This is surely unprecedented in modern day British corporate life.

We have made every effort in prolonged negotiations with management to find an acceptable resolution to the outstanding problems but sadly find that we must now conduct a fresh ballot in order to defend our members.

BA knows what it must to do stop this dispute from escalating. The issues between us would cost BA not a single penny to resolve. It is now a matter of them showing the leadership to get back round the table with us to settle this through negotiation.”

Unite says the five issues between the crew and the airline are:

  1. The immediate restoration of staff travel concessions, in full, to the crew from whom they were taken by BA.
  2. Binding arbitration, through Acas, of all cabin crew disciplinary cases related to the original dispute, which led to 22 days of strike action between March and May 2010.
  3. The restoration of all earnings docked from crew who were genuinely off sick during strike dates.
  4. 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.
  5. The introduction of mixed fleet on different terms and conditions without the agreement of the trade union.

The ballot will close on 21 January 2011.

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BA faces court hearing on policy of dismissing Hong Kong cabin crew at 45 Tue, 07 Dec 2010 16:24:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]> British Airways is facing a crunch court of appeal hearing this week into its policy of dismissing its female Hong Kong cabin crew at 45 – and denying them a pension.

Unite, the largest union in the country, will be arguing that the airline must apply UK law to its Hong Kong-based female cabin crew.

The case, which affects 24 of the Hong Kong female workforce, will be held at the court of appeal in London later this week.

Unite will say that BA’s failure to reach an agreement is a shameful attempt to continue to discriminate against its employees on both age and race grounds.

In January this year, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) upheld an employment tribunal 2008 ruling that the airline was wrong to claim that the women’s Hong Kong nationality excluded them from the jurisdiction of UK employment law.

Unite urged BA then to respect that judgement and move swiftly to end the discriminatory practices, however the airline said it would contest the EAT ruling at the court of appeal.

Unite national officer for Civil Aviation, Brendan Gold, said: “BA’s mistreatment of these women is a stain on the reputation of a leading and iconic British company which has allowed such discriminatory practices to continue into the 21st century.

“We will be asking the court of appeal to uphold  the tribunal’s wishes that these workers are covered by UK employment law and as such must not be discriminated against on any grounds, including their race or age.

“By continuing with its intransigence, BA is treating a group of its workers as second class employees. It should not be allowed to sack female workers at 45. BA’s position is further undermined by the anti-age discrimination introduced in the UK in 2006.”

Unite took the case to the EAT on behalf of one stewardess, Eliza Mak, and 16 colleagues. Eliza received her dismissal letter from BA when she turned 45, despite having worked for the airline since 1988.

BA dismisses its female Hong Kong crew when they turn 45 and denies them a pension, claiming its UK employment provisions do not apply to this workforce.

Unlike their counterparts in the UK who retire with a pension at 60, the Hong Kong crew women are forced out of their jobs 15 years early and with only a one-off payment of a few thousand pounds on which to support themselves and their families.

Unite has been pushing for BA to accept that all its employees, wherever they may reside, should be covered by the company’s employment agreements, including retirement age and pension rights. The January EAT ruling – if upheld by the court of appeal – would allow those crew dismissed at 45 by BA to have their claims for discrimination heard in the UK courts.

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New ballot at BA as Unite says end victimisation and punishment of cabin crew – put passengers first Wed, 01 Dec 2010 17:27:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 29 November 2010

Unite, the union for British Airways’ 11,000 cabin crew, today (Monday) confirmed that a fresh ballot for industrial action at the airline is soon to get underway.

Announcing the new ballot, Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, said:

“British Airways’ latest offer is not acceptable to our members, a point we made clear to the airline earlier this month. Regrettably, we have not found it possible to resolve the outstanding issues concerning cabin crew since then.

BA told us it was a business in crisis. It demanded structural change. These changes have been made and this business is now in profit with senior management filling their wallets with the spoils.

Yet BA is determined to continue with this vicious war against its workforce. It is time for BA to put its passengers first – and the best way to achieve this is to resolve the issues between us, which would not cost BA a single penny and yet would bring priceless stability and peace to the company.

However, BA’s continued hounding of union members leaves us no other option but to conduct a new industrial action ballot.

This airline has conducted a year-long assault on cabin crew collectively and on many of them as individuals. We will not stand by while this airline bullies our members out of their jobs, and if it takes strike action to bring BA management to its senses, then that is the road we must, regretfully, travel.

Our door is open to negotiations with BA, but it must understand the depth of feeling among our members. Nothing short of the fairness and decent treatment they deserve will be acceptable.”

Tony Woodley outlined the specific issues that BA should address to solve the dispute:

  1. An immediate restoration of staff travel concessions, in full, to the crew from whom they were taken by BA
  2. Binding arbitration, through Acas, of all cabin crew disciplinary cases related to the dispute
  3. Restoration of the wages docked from crew who were genuinely off sick during strike dates
  4. 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.

Unite expects to serve notice of an industrial action ballot to the airline shortly.  The ballot should be concluded in early January.

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BA union leader predicts fresh strikes in January Mon, 22 Nov 2010 16:52:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> A leader of the British Airways cabin crew – who have been resisting changes to their working conditions for more than a year – is predicting they will be back on strike in January.

Duncan Holley, the secretary of the BA union branch, was speaking to The Workers United after addressing a meeting of the Manchester Industrial Relations Society.

He told an audience of more than 50 people – mainly students – the story of the dispute which has led to him and other union activists losing their jobs.

Cabin crew union reps recently rejected a deal that had been negotiated between BA and leaders of Unite.

Holley said after the meeting that if the airline’s bosses didn’t agree to four demands a fresh ballot for industrial action would start in about two weeks with strikes likely in January.

The demands are:
• Returning staff travel concessions to cabin crew who went on strike earlier this year with no loss of seniority.
• Reimbursing cabin crew who had wages deducted when they were sick on strike days.
• Taking the cases of union members who were disciplined because of the dispute to the government arbitration service ACAS.
• Withdrawing plans for an agreement which would allow BA management to impose new terms if negotiations lasted more than eight weeks.

During his address Holley had criticised some elements in Unite’s leadership for not supporting the cabin crew strongly enough – particularly those who were previously in the Amicus union.

He said later that he had voted for Len McCluskey in the election for Unite’s general secretary – which ends tomorrow (Friday) – and was confident that if McCluskey wins he would back the strikers and organise a ballot quickly.

Holley is the secretary of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) – a branch of the bigger union. He worked as a steward for 35 years before he was sacked in May.

The meeting was at the Manchester Metropolitan Univsersity business school.

From Workers United, a Red pepper blog

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Cabin crew announce further BA strike dates Mon, 10 May 2010 16:56:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 10th May 2010

British Airways cabin crew are to hold a further 20 days of strike action following their overwhelming rejection of the company’s offer in a ballot last week, Unite the union announced today (Monday).

BA management failed to offer any new proposals to settle the dispute over the weekend, so crew are to take strike action on the following days:  May 18-22 inclusive, May 24-28 inclusive, May 30-June 3 inclusive and June 5-9 inclusive.

Unite’s joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: “Passengers and investors alike will be dismayed that British Airways’ management rejected an approach by the union over the weekend, after their offer had been comprehensively turned down by their own employees.

Cabin crew are left with no choice but to take further strike action.  There can be no industrial peace without meaningful negotiations and while management victimises trade unionists and uses disciplinary procedures in a witch-hunt.

The seven days notice period is sufficient time for BA management to do the sensible thing and reopen meaningful negotiations.”

Unite is also intending to hold a further industrial action ballot of BA cabin crew over issues which have arisen from the company’s conduct during the dispute.

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BA cabin crew overwhelmingly reject company offer Fri, 07 May 2010 15:50:07 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Unite the union cabin crew employed at British Airways have overwhelmingly rejected the company’s offer relating to the current industrial dispute, the union announced today (Friday).

Around 81 per cent of the crew voted against the offer, in line with the union’s recommendation.  There was a turnout of 71 per cent.

Representatives of the crew will meet with Unite’s Joint General Secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, on Monday to discuss next moves in the dispute.

Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said today:  “BA management should take note of their own employees’ strong rejection of their offer and immediately address the outstanding concerns.

They should make no mistake that Unite is fully committed to supporting our members in furthering this dispute if no resolution is found.”

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Unite recommends rejection in BA cabin crew ballot and challenges BA's motives for settlement Fri, 30 Apr 2010 16:01:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Unite the union has begun balloting its 12,000 cabin crew members on the latest offer from British Airways management, with a strong recommendation that they reject the proposal.

In a letter to crew accompanying the ballot Unite joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, outlined three main reasons why cabin crew should vote to reject the offer.

First is the failure of BA to fully restore travel concessions from all crew who took industrial action. BA will take away ‘seniority’ based travel which means that crew with long service will lose out disproportionately from those with a few years service.

Tony wrote: “This plan aims to treat loyal employees and trade unionists as permanent second-class citizens, branded for having supported the union and humiliated for having taken democratically-endorsed and fully-legal strike action. There is no way on earth this union could ever accept such a sanction. The fact that management has been so insistent on its position on this matter, even though it is an issue of almost no financial consequence, must inevitably give rise to concerns about BA’s entire attitude and outlook to the future of industrial relations.”

The second reason for Unite recommending rejection is the company’s disciplinary actions against over 50 crew members who have been suspended on charges arising from the dispute. Four crew have already been dismissed. Unite proposed having disciplinaries which result in dismissal go to an appeal hearing to be held by a third party such as Acas, but BA refused to agree.

Tony Woodley wrote: “The charges in the great majority of cases are entirely trivial and barely worthy of a slap on the wrist, let alone the sack. This evidence of victimisation and draconian punishments – in some cases directed against your representatives – render worthless the words in the offer designed to rule out such behaviour.”

The third and most general reason for rejection relates to Unite’s loss of trust in BA’s commitment in finding a solution to the dispute.

Mr Woodley wrote: “Any agreement is only as good as the integrity and sincerity of those putting their names to it. By their actions and behaviour throughout the dispute, and continuing to this day, it is impossible to take BA management’s words at face value.

I have had a considerable experience of strikes and disputes. Normally, the sort of issues we are referring to here – the removal of sanctions imposed during a strike, the speedy and sensitive winding down of all but the most genuinely serious disciplinary issues arising from a dispute – are straight-forward matters of industrial common sense, dealt with swiftly once the issues of substance between the two sides have been resolved. Yet in this case it is precisely on these issues that management has proved most intransigent of all.

This is at the very least a major failure of industrial statesmanship by Mr Walsh, fanning the flames of conflict at the very moment when peace would otherwise have been at hand. At worst, it is a clear statement of intent – that the company wishes to break trade unionism among its cabin crew, not by a formal act of de-recognition (unattainable under present legislation because of our collective strength and organisation), but by a process of bullying, humiliation and piece-meal victimisation until you are left with no effective protection or the smallest measure of control over your working environment.”

The consultative ballot of BA cabin crew members will close on 7 May.

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