British Airways (BA) cabin crew who have called in sick since the weekend will be deemed to be supporting the strikes if they are still off when the walkouts start, the airline has warned.
This would allow the firm to take disciplinary action against those staff, including the removal of travel perks, according to the Guardian.
Several cabin crew have contacted the newspaper to claim they now face disciplinary action, despite being genuinely ill and unable to come to work. One said: “BA have said that I will not be getting any sick pay because I will be deemed to be involved in strike action.”
The move has made the planned industrial action far more likely to go ahead. Up to 12,000 cabin crew members are set to strike for three days from this Saturday (20 March) and for a further four days from Saturday 27 March.
Seven senior shop stewards at Bassa, the Unite trade union cabin crew branch, face the chop following the dispute over pay, job cuts and changes to working practices, the Guardian reports. Some 38 Unite members allegedly have charges held against them by the airline which chief executive Willie Walsh has refused to drop, according to the newspaper.
The union said: “We have good reason to believe it is Willie Walsh’s intention to use a dispute to break Unite’s influence among cabin crew, and leave them without effective union protection.”
A BA spokesman said the airline would not halt disciplinary action: “The issues facing us are how are we going to move our customers to where they want to get to over the weekend. That is what we are focusing on. If the opportunity for talks comes along, we will certainly take it.”
BA has said it will be able to fly 65% of passengers during the first strike this weekend, up from its original 60% planned, as it gained more support from staff. About 1,000 former cabin crew members have volunteered to cross the picket lines during the strikes.
Meanwhile, international airlines and trade unions yesterday said they would support Unite in the strike.