Thousands of British Airways cabin crew began a five—day strike today, though the airline claimed it will still be able to carry 70 percent of passengers who have booked flights.
The walkout in the increasingly bitter feud follows the failure of weekend talks between the Unite union and the airline. A key issue is the union’s demand that the airline restore employee travel benefits which the airline suspended following an earlier strike.
The union’s joint leader, Tony Woodley, says BA already has secured its aim of cutting 1,700 jobs. Mr. Woodley said the dispute has turned personal because he believes the airline dislikes the cabin crew’s Unite union branch, the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association.
British Airways says it has accepted an invitation for more negotiations, and says it believes the union will also accept.
“Those savings are in the bank. This dispute has been broadened, so this is not just about cost downs, it is about regime change. It is personal because of the dislike and trust of the branch,” Mr. Woodley said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp radio.
British Airways said it had already offered to reinstate travel concessions to cabin crew once all elements of its offer were implemented, but it accused Mr. Woodley and the union of reopening issues which had been settled.