British Airways (BA) has allegedly recruited up to 1,000 pilots to cover cabin crew if they go ahead with a strike next month, the Daily Mail has reported.
Some 12,000 cabin crew members are voting on whether to strike in a row over pay, jobs and working conditions. The vote will be announced on Monday (22 February), with the earliest possible strike date set for 1 March.
The airline’s chief executive Willie Walsh sent a letter to all BA staff last month calling on them to volunteer to perform the duties of striking workers. Former cabin crew employees who were released by the airline last year were also asked to come back to act as strike-breakers.
The newspaper claims Walsh revealed his plans to minimise disruption and keep some flights flying should industrial action go ahead at a private monthly meeting of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) in Brussels yesterday.
The news will infuriate unions, whose leaders have already publicly condemned BA’s attempts to recruit volunteer ‘scab’ labour to break their strike.
A high-ranking aviation source close to the AEA meeting in the Belgian capital, which Walsh was chairing, told the newspaper: “Willie Walsh made no bones about it. He told all the airline bosses at the meeting: ‘We now have 1,000 pilots who are going to train as cabin crew and act as crew on the flights.’ He also said he expected the strike would go ahead.”
BA said last night: “We are not discussing any details at this stage. We continue to put our customers’ interests first and we will explore all options to enable us to operate the best flying programme possible in the event of industrial action.”