British Airways strikes continue despite busy three-day weekend

by Alister POOLE on June 1, 2010

British Airways’ cabin crew resumed industrial action on Sunday after talks again fell out over staffing levels and pay cuts.

The walkouts affected 22,000 passengers as flights were grounded by striking. The strikes come at one of the UK’s busiest three-day weekends during the Monday’s national bank holiday. However, BA has been hasty to assure passengers that it will continue to operate up to 70 per cent of its long-haul flights out of its base in Heathrow Airport.

Last week, during another wave of five-day striking, BA was only able to maintain 60 per cent of its long-haul routes, while only 50 per cent of European destinations were up and running during the walkout. As the latest round of industrial action sweeps the company, the airline has promised to up its operational flights to European destinations to 55 per cent, up five per cent from last week.

Both British Airways and Unite, the union representing BA’s cabin crews, have argued over staffing levels and pay scales since over a year ago when BA was forced to make significant cutbacks in the face of the recession. Current talks halted in November when the carrier cut back on staff levels on long-haul flights without consulting the union first.

Last week’s walkouts, which lasted five days, are said to have disrupted travel plans for 25,000 people per day as BA was forced into cancellations. Out of 333 flights scheduled on Friday, 121 of those were grounded by the walkouts. According to Unite, those numbers included 20 of BA’s long-haul flights.

The union has agreed to halt striking if cabin crews travel perks are reinstated. Back in March, the carrier took away all travel privileges for employees participating in the strikes during a seven-day stoppage. Unite is also upset over workers’ suspensions during the stoppage two months ago.

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