British Airways cabin crew begin five-day strike

British Airways cabin crew began a five-day strike on Monday after weekend talks on a long-running dispute over wages, job cuts and working conditions broke down in acrimony.

British Airways cabin crew begin five-day strike


British Airways cabin crew began a five-day strike on Monday after weekend talks on a long-running dispute over wages, job cuts and working conditions broke down in acrimony.

Flights from two other London airports, Gatwick and City, were not affected by the strike. A further two five-day strikes are planned if the dispute cannot be resolved, following on from stoppages in March.

The issue of travel allowances for cabin crew has become a major sticking point in the conflict. The airline last week announced a record full-year loss of 531 million pounds ($763 million).

Cabin crew strikes in March cost the airline 43 million pounds, a figure included in the loss posted last week. BA has suffered an additional 100 million pound hit due to disruption to flights caused by ash from an Icelandic volcano.

The new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition urged the two parties to resume talks to settle the dispute.

"It's not in the interests of the company, it's not in the interests of the staff long-term and it's certainly not in the interests of the travelling public," Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman told reporters.

The airline said it planned to operate more than 60 percent of long-haul flights and more than 50 percent of short-haul flights from London's main Heathrow Airport, allowing 70 percent of passengers to reach their destinations.

"Our operations around the world have got off to a good start this morning," BA said in a statement.

BA said it would be leasing up to eight aircraft with pilots and cabin crews from other British or European airlines to keep passengers on the move.

British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh and leaders of the labour union Unite, which represents the cabin crew, blame each other for a breakdown in communication.

"I made an offer to Willie Walsh yesterday to put back our people's travel concessions that he's vindictively and foolishly taken away from them and I would personally call this strike off," Unite co-leader Tony Woodley told BBC Radio 4 on Monday.

The latest round of face-to-face talks between managers and union leaders, on Saturday, came to an halt.

It also emerged that Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, had been sending real-time updates to the microblogging site Twitter from inside the confidential talks, angering Walsh.

Undaunted, Simpson tweeted again on Monday. "Tony (Woodley) and I will visit the BA picket lines today ... And if BA are minded we will talk to them," he wrote.


Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2010, 16:52
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