Latest on BA strikes

At the time of this blog, the first of the British Airways’ cabin crew strike lasting 3-days is over. The second strike is due to take place on March 27th and last 4-days. Further stoppages are said to follow from April 14th unless a deal can be reached.

The latest walkouts follow overwhelming support for a strike in a rerun ballot called by Unite after the High Court outlawed a 12-day stoppage which was due to take place over Christmas.

BA, which usually carries about 75,000 passengers a day in March, says it has contingency plans in place to keep much of its schedule in place.

The airline says that it has trained around 1,000 volunteers who will step into the shoes of the striking cabin crew. BA has also leased a number of aircraft and crew to bolster its fleet should industrial action take place. BA said this will enable the service to run a substantial part of both its long and short-haul operations from Heathrow.

At Gatwick the airline will run all its long distance flights and half to closer destinations. BA’s operation at London City Airport, including its New York services, will continue as normal.

British Airways is now also facing the threat of a second industrial dispute, this time involving ground staff.

It has accused BA of trying to impose new working practices on 4,000 ground staff – the same accusation which triggered the cabin crew dispute.

Unite is threatening to ballot the ground staff – including baggage handlers and workers who prepare the aircraft before it flies – unless the airline withdraws a letter it sent to employees changing their working practices.

A full-blown dispute with ground staff is some weeks away, but if agreement cannot be reached, the airline could be hit by a second strike in May.

* Source – British Airways and the Telegraph, March 2010