British Airways flight attendants are threatening a strike, just days after a computer failure disrupted travel for more than 75,000 passengers and put the carrier’s cost cuts under scrutiny.
Members of the Unite union plan to walk out from June 16 through June 19 after the airline suspended travel benefits for flight attendants who participated in 26 days of strikes over pay earlier this year. The airline and Unite subsequently reached an agreement over salaries, but the union hasn’t presented the deal to members because of the dispute over the travel benefits.
“Punishing staff for using legitimate industrial means to reach a wage deal is a culture that Unite cannot accept and a culture that will ultimately damage the BA brand,” Unite assistant secretary general Howard Beckett said in an emailed statement. He cited the airline’s “persistent refusal” to hand back free flight benefits to workers.
A spokeswoman for the airline, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, urged Unite to present the agreement to its members. “We had reached a deal on pay,” she said by email. “Strike action is completely unnecessary.” The union said the strike won’t prevent travelers from reaching their destinations.
British Airways grounded flights last weekend because of a hardware failure that could cost the carrier as much as 100 million euros (about $110 million). The chaos sparked a furor in Britain over the carrier’s restructuring. British Airways Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz, who took over in April of last year, has reduced costs in part by outsourcing software engineering to foreign companies.
The GMB union separately on Friday called on British Airways to halt plans to outsource another 600 information-technology staffers. The union also demanded participation in an independent probe into the incident.
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