British Airways cabin crew to strike from next week

British Airways (BA) cabin crew will go on strike from next week, Unite union has announced.

Up to 12,000 cabin crew will walkout for three days from 20 March and then for four days from 27 March.

But the union promised further strikes would be called after 14 April if the dispute was not resolved by then.

The strikes were sparked after BA cut the full-time equivalent of 1,700 cabin crew jobs and made changes to work and pay conditions.

Len McCluskey, Unite assistant general secretary and lead negotiator with BA, said: “Regrettably, [BA] management turned down a remarkable offer from the union which would have given the company everything it said it wanted while also meeting our members’ concerns.”

Unite said the airline had now submitted an offer to the union, which its members will vote on, but added the offer “falls short of what we believe is needed to address the legitimate concerns”.

The result of this vote is expected by the middle of next week, and if accepted, the strikes will be called off. But McCluskey added the union was unable to recommend the offer to its members.

The offer by BA follows an offer by Unite earlier in the week of a two-year pay freeze and the acceptance that new cabin crew could be recruited on different pay and conditions – but the airline rejected this deal.

McCluskey said: “The consultative ballot we are holding will be concluded before the first day of industrial action is scheduled to take place. Should that ballot show a majority in favour of the company’s offer, then all the strike action announced today will of course be cancelled.

“Should they turn the proposal down then, in the absence of a better offer from the company before the dates I have announced for strike action, Unite will stand four square behind our cabin crew members in their struggle against industrial dictatorship, and we will call on the whole of the labour movement at home and abroad to stand with us.”

BA has said it has 1,000 volunteers ready to cover any strike action that Unite’s members take.

A spokesman for BA said the airline was “extremely disappointed” with the strike announcement.

He said: “Unite’s action has no shred of justification. British Airways’ crew are rightly renowned for their professionalism and skills. Our entire package for crew recognises that and is reasonable and fair.

“The changes save us more than £60m a year. We have made clear we would consider refinements of the changes, provided any additional cost was offset by other adjustments in the cabin crew budget.

“To date, all proposals put forward by Unite fall significantly short of saving £60m a year.”

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