Thursday, March 18, 2010

BA adds extra flights to beat strike

British Airways says it will increase the number of flights on its schedule during the three-day cabin crew strike, as the Unite union says it has received more support from global trade unions.

BA had pledged to fly 60 per cent of its customers during this weekend's walk-out.

The airline said more employees than expected had offered to stand-in for unite members who go on strike from Saturday in an increasingly acrimonious dispute over staffing levels.

The airline said it would be offering to fly an extra 40,000 additional passengers, and offer more destinations.

60 rival airlines have also offered seats or charter planes to help BA customers during the dispute.

Willie Walsh, BA chief executive said: "The determination of our colleagues across the whole business to keep the flag flying this weekend is increasing."

"Morale among our operation teams is high.

Short-haul services from Heathrow had faced particular disruption during the walkout, with the airline saying it could only guarantee running 30 per cent of its schedule.

Unite is believed to have secured more support for its stance from trade unions across the world.

Channel 4 News has learned labour unions in Germany, Spain and France will ask their members to refuse to service BA flights or engage in so-called 'go-slows' when the airline's planes land abroad.

Ingo Kronsfoth of Germany's Verdi Union, which represents nearly 30,000 workers in the aviation sector, said his members fully support Unite and are prepared to engage in a "solidarity strike" if asked by Unite.

Unite has also received pledges of support from the Comisiones Obreras Union (CCOO) and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) in France.

Commons tussle
The dispute was raised in the house of commons during prime minister's questions time. Conservative leader David Cameron said Labour had gone "back to the 1970s" in its approach to on union action.

He said: "Lord Adonis (Transport Secretary) said it threatens the very existence of BA. When you were asked about it, you said, 'It's the wrong time'.

"Can you tell us when is the right time for a strike that threatens the future of one of Britain's biggest employers and best companies?"

But prime minister Gordon Brown accused Mr Cameron of "total opportunism" for trying to fuel the dispute, and he again called for BA and the union to reach a deal by negotiation.

"My thoughts are with the customers of BA. My thoughts also are with those who depend for their jobs on the success of BA and our airlines," he said.

"That's exactly why, at this particular point in time, I would like the sides to get together and discuss these issues."

Source:  Chanel Four News

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