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Latest News - March 2010

March 14, 2010
Ministers Urge British Airways Union to Cancel Strike
Source: BusinessWeek
Author: Grant Smith and Thomas Penny


March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Senior U.K. government ministers urged labor unions at British Airways Plc to call off a series of strikes planned to start this week.

The proposed seven-day action due to begin on March 20 would “threaten the very existence” of the carrier, Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said today in a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview. Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling told Sky News that it would be “very damaging” to the company.

The Unite union, which represents British Airways’ 12,000 flight attendants, announced the protest on March 12 after talks on pay and lower staffing levels broke down. Cabin crew will stage an initial three-day walkout, followed by a four-day action from March 27. The strikes will be the airline’s first since 1997.

“The impact of this will not only be deeply damaging on passengers, it will threaten the very existence of BA,” Adonis told the BBC’s Marr program. “I absolutely deplore the strike.”

Unite called on Adonis to urge British Airways to re-open an offer withdrawn on March 12. Andrew Murray, a spokesman for Unite, said that “there is still a possibility of peace” if the offer is restored.

“We all want to avoid strike action and Unite is always ready to negotiate,” Murray said in a telephone interview today.

Revised Timetable

British Airways Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh said 70 percent of flights will continue during the service disruption, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The airline will publish a revised timetable tomorrow showing that all flights from London City Airport, long-haul services from Gatwick airport and half of the short-haul routes from that airport will run as normal, the Telegraph said.

The airline said in an e-mailed statement that it welcomed Adonis’ call to cancel the strike, which it described as “disproportionate and unjustified.”

“I very much hope these strikes don’t take place,” Darling told Sky News. “People need to think long and hard about the consequences of what they do.”





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