British Airways Plans to Vote on Strike Again

The Guardian and other sources are reporting that the Unite trade union has informed British Airways cabin crew it will open a strike ballot on January 22.

The vote over staffing cuts is expected to take around a month to complete, and if the estimated 12,700 crew affiliated to Unite agree to strike, a walkout could begin from March 1.

In a letter to members, the union's aviation officers, Steve Turner and Brian Boyd, said they were "determined" to hold a new ballot after a strong vote in favour of industrial action was ruled unlawful by the High Court last month.

The ballot will take place against the backdrop of peace talks between BA executives and Unite officials, held under the auspices of the TUC, the UK trade union body and chaired by general secretary Brendan Barber.

BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, moved quickly after the High Court ruling to offer talks with Unite and has already offered concessions over changes that were imposed in November. BA reduced the number of cabin crew on long-haul flights from between 15 and 16 positions to 14 but has offered assurances on the duties carried out by the cabin service director. However, it remains adamant that there must be multimillion pound cuts in crew costs.

Its negotiating team opened the TUC talks last week with a presentation emphasising that BA cabin crew have a higher average wage than staff at easyJet and Virgin Atlantic. Unite's branch for British Airways cabin crew, Bassa, argues that a better comparison would be with European rivals such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.