Wants To Give Passengers The Chance To Make Alternate
British Airways announced Thursday,
January 24, it has canceled all flights from London's Heathrow
airport, and all domestic and European flights out of
Gatwick, for the last two days of January. The airline is
anticipating a two-day strike called by UK's Transport and General
Workers' Union (T&G) after labor negotiations failed to reach a
BA is offering to rebook or refund for passengers holding
tickets for those dates.
As ANN reported, 96 percent
of T&G voted to strike when the airline refused to make changes
to it's sick-leave policy and combine separate pay scales for cabin
crew. The airlines says 11,000 of its 15,000 cabin crew are union
In a statement, BA chief executive Willie Walsh said, "We are
bitterly disappointed that the T&G has refused to respond
positively to the serious proposals we have made on the union's two
crucial issues. It has chosen instead to confirm a 48-hour stoppage
for next week that will wreck the travel plans of hundreds of
thousands of customers."
BA changed its
sick-leave policy claiming workers were taking an average of 22
sick days per year -- they were authorized 25. BA reduced the
number 12 per year. According to a report in Bloomberg, UK
workers take on average seven sick days per year.
T&G voted almost a decade ago to split the pay scale for
future workers -- now it wants the scales combined. BA says that
could cost up to $38 million per year.
The union says BA's plans to cut the number of senior flight
attendants -- those at the top of the pay scale -- will limit
promotion opportunities for the rest.
A T&G statement read, in part,
"Strike action by BA cabin crew
moved a step nearer after BA failed to grasp the chance to settle
the dispute in the early hours of this morning."
The two sides negotiated for 24 hours before talks broke down.
The airline reportedly accepted changes to some management
policies, but its salary offer was rejected by T&G.
The airline has asked T&G to enter arbitration with the
independent UK Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
(ACAS). Both sides must agree to accept ACAS arbitration
"If it (T&G) is serious about solving this dispute
peacefully it should turn away from confrontation and support our
approach to (conciliators) ACAS in a bid to find a breakthrough,"
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in the company's
The union originally planned to strike for three days next week.
It says it dropped the first 24 hours to allow time for
negotiation, but it has set further three-day walkouts for February
5 - 7 and February 12 - 14. The last three-day strike for BA in
1997 cost it some $250 million.