BA’s Willie Walsh warns unions against Christmas cabin crew strike

The chief executive of British Airways has warned cabin crew he will not compromise on proposed cost-cutting measures as the Unite union prepares for possible strike action in December.

Willie Walsh said in an interview with the Financial Times that the latest dispute was “very, very different” from one in January 2007, when an 11th-hour settlement with flight attendants averted a walkout.

Grievances in the last dispute included changes to sick pay and on-board staffing levels, whereas the latest row concerns cutting cabin crew on some long-haul flights from 15 to 14, a move Unite says will put staff health and passenger service at risk. the paper reports.

Walsh said the changes, which include voluntary redundancies and other moves aimed at saving £130m, are vital to the future of BA.

Unite started balloting more than 12,000 staff about a possible strike last Monday, and could legally invoke a walkout after 21 December if its members vote for action.

Walsh dismissed calls for Roger Maynard, BA’s director of investments and alliances, to step down as chairman of the trustees of BA’s pension schemes.

Groups such as the Occupational Pensioners’ Alliance claim that Maynard has a conflict of intest as BA starts talks with pension trustees on a recovery plan for the pension fund deficit, nearly £2.7bn as of September.

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