Belfast Telegraph

BA faces legal battle over cuts to cabin crew perks

By Alan Jones

The bitter British Airways dispute has taken a fresh twist after Unite announced it was taking legal action over the removal of travel concessions from cabin crew who have been on strike.

The issue is one of the main stumbling blocks to resolving the long-running row over cost- cutting which has led to 22 days of strike action, costing the airline more than £150m.

Unite said it was planning to mount a legal challenge on behalf of the staff who have had travel concessions taken away after they went on strike.

Unite also announced it will meet BA for fresh talks at the conciliation service Acas next week in an attempt to break the deadlocked dispute.

Unite said in a statement yesterday: "After careful consideration, Unite believes that management's action breaches European human rights legislation. It also believes that this sanction - which has impeded the resolution of the long-running dispute - was taken without proper disciplinary procedures being followed."

The union said it will be giving additional assistance to any member who suffered particular financial hardship after having their pay docked because of the dispute.

Joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: "Unite remains determined to secure a settlement to this dispute acceptable to cabin crew.

"Until such an agreement is secured, we will continue to support our members financially and legally to ensure that every avenue is explored to achieve justice for these loyal and professional men and women who have been so badly treated by their employer."

The legal action will be on behalf of thousands of Unite members and could involve the European Court of Human Rights.

The move followed last week's rejection of the carrier's final offer in a ballot of Unite members, which has raised the threat of further strikes later in the summer.

Cabin crew voted by 3,419 to 1,686 against the offer.

The 2-1 majority against the offer, on a turnout of around 50%, followed previous ballots on industrial action, which returned much bigger votes in favour.

BA said: "Staff travel is a non-contractual perk that the company can withdraw at its discretion. Our cabin crew knew that if they took part in strike action, they would lose their staff travel perks."

"We totally reject the claim from Unite and will defend our position vigorously," said a spokesman for the airline.