British Airways cabin crew votes for more strikes as royal wedding approaches
British Airways has been in dispute with cabin crew for nearly two years. A walkout could threaten British Airways business this spring.
London — British Airways cabin crew voted Monday to hold more strikes in their long-running dispute with the airline, raising the prospect of possible walkouts during a busy spring that includes the royal wedding and the Easter holiday.
The Unite union did not immediately announce new strike dates after revealing that its members voted 8-1 in favor of taking further industrial action, saying it would continue to seek talks with BA management first.
The union has to give seven days' notice of any walkout, meaning strikes could occur over the busy Easter holiday and the April 29 wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The threat of strikes now hangs over the BA "London getaway" packages marketed for that weekend offering overseas visitors special deals on flights and accommodation.
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Cabin crews have been in dispute with BA for almost two years.
The argument began over cost-cutting measures by the airline, including a pay freeze and a reduction in the number of cabin crew on long haul flights. It later spread to other issues and is now centered on travel concessions withdrawn from staff who took part in earlier strikes.
The spat has already cost BA around 150 million pounds ($240 million) after Unite cabin crews walked out 22 days last year.
But the airline has successfully pursued court action twice, delaying further walkouts by forcing the union into reballoting members because it failed to correctly follow strict voting procedures.
British Airways PLC has also incrementally increased the number of flights it operates throughout the strike periods.
Each side continues to blame the other for prolonging the dispute.
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said Monday's vote, the fourth official ballot in two years, reflected the "continued resilience" among the crew.
"This vote shows that cabin crew remain determined to win justice," he said.
Of the 10,000 cabin crew polled, 83 percent of the 6,981 who returned ballot papers voted "yes" to strike action.
"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," said McCluskey.
BA said it was "time for cooperation, not confrontation."
The airline said it hoped that talks that began with Unite earlier this month would resolve the dispute.