British Airways latest - legal action, staff cheer, BMI sneer

Something smells fishy according to British Airways, and it's not the cod in white wine sauce on the Economy menu. With 12 days of scheduled flights in peril after members of union UNITE decided to strike over pay freezes and redundancies, the airline is attempting to prevent the action going ahead by serving papers on the union. The reason? BA are citing "irregularities" in the initial strike ballot:

We are commencing legal action in an attempt to protect customers from the massive stress and disruption threatened by Unite’s decision to call a 12-day strike from December 22.

We have today written to Unite, highlighting irregularities in the union’s strike ballot, which we believe renders the ballot invalid.

The airline called on Unite to call off the industrial action by 2pm today, 15 December 2009. The union has not done so and British Airways is now seeking an injunction to prevent the strike going ahead.

Today’s letter was the third sent to Unite, pointing out the balloting flaws, since last Friday. The union did not reply to the first two letters.

BA say they're attempting to determine which staff will work through the strike if it goes ahead. If you're booked for a flight due to depart on a date that may be affected by strike action or 48 hours either side, you can find out more about your options on the BA website.

By the way, if you're wondering how a group of several thousand employees react when presented with the opportunity to ruin the Christmas plans of millions, this video was anonymously posted on YouTube today - it was shot during the union meeting when the ballot figures were announced (that moment of crushing realisation for BA staff occurs at 1' 05"):

Finally, there's always somebody who spots an opportunity at in a time of crisis:

Bitterwallet - clever wordplay from BMI advert



  • MyOtherUserNameIsAFerarri
    I was just thinking about this this morning: Do we really need cabin crew on Airplanes? If they want to strike, let them, they wont need to be paid and the airline will save money. We dont NEED people walking up and down the aisles on buses or trains selling us stuff, so why should a plane be any different?
  • roversnick
    are you being serious?!?! perhaps due to safety regulations... Would you know what to do in an emergency, if there was a fire etc
  • Frequent F.
    @roversnick Erm, what do the cabin staff do in an emergency? Thankfully ive never been in an emergency on a flight but from the spiel at the beginning of the flight and the safety leaflets all the passangers are supposed to do the hard work of opening the emergency exits, and the safety equipment is designed so that passangers can use them. So sod the BA staff (except the pilots, they may be useful)
  • rob
    How stupid can these people be. Lets go on strike during one of the busiest periods of the year so BA lose lots of money and then have no choice but to cut down on staff or even go bust ...what do they think they are going to achieve apart from putting themselves on benefit when they dont have a job. Idiots all of em...
  • dados
    near 30k a year fer pushing a trolley & wiggling yer arse,& don't forget about the female cabin crew either,we only need 1 of them anyways,man the doors,fill my drinks,bend over so i can see yer tits,job done
  • Callum
    I think BA cabin crew are about to become more unpopular than bankers and MPs!
  • Rodders
    I take it none of you have ever been on strike then? You need to realise that strike action is allways a very last resort when management start to take the piss. I'm 100%behind them and would still feel this way if my flight was cancelled. Brainwashed by the media, the lot f you.
  • andy y.
    Maybe but prior to this BA cabin crew have been taking the piss.They are mainly a surly bunch,most with unexciting tits.
  • dunfyboy
    Up the workers. Of course they are better paid than most waitresses, but it gets me out of working January 1st.
  • Tom
    Dumb fucks. BA ought to sack them all and re-employ Polish, Indian, who ever is willing to be paid 30k a year and work for it.
  • Aaron
    I find it funny that Rodders is defending the BA Cabin Crew. I assume you must be one of them? It's ridiculous that they're striking when they are the highest paid Cabin Crew in the world. Not only that, but they are the only airline's staff that have a union and this is the second strike in a year. This is getting ridiculous. They're greedy c*nts. Rodders, do you even know why they are striking? They're moaning about not staying in 5 class hotels anymore and that the duration that they stay in countries has been reduced. Well, to be quite frank, they need to realise they're not on holiday when they fly out to another country and that they are indeed resting before their next shift. This strike is utterly ridiculous and going to ruin the holidays for so many thousands of people.
  • Matt
    Hmmm, I stand with the other comments... Just shooting themselves in the foot here really! The more they damage BA's reputation, the less people will fly with them = less money = more sackings or going bust full stop! A bit like Alitalia... They tell the Union that they have to either lay off a load of people or go bust. Union declares a strike! If the airline goes bust you all loose your jobs! Tits!
  • Robin
    BA's cabin staff mentality= 1) company isn't making enough money so facing paycuts so strike thus making sure the company really isn't making enough money 2)???? 3) PROFIT!!!!?11
  • Irish B.
    BA Should ask if passengers are willing to fly without Cabin Crew. Maybe some of the passengers could have a crack at it for a free flight, it can't be that hard show me where the fridge and the microwave is and i'll hand out the beer and warm your sandwich up. Plus we've all been on planes before, we all know the safety procedure, that's what the little card is for, we don't we need it explaining as well like silly c*nts. Not that many crash anyway and you'd probably die if it did. Wasn't BA ask their staff to work for free awhile back anyway? With this solution everyone's a winner (except maybe the cabin crews but f*ck em')
  • BA B.
    You know if you want to run a business go and take a loan and take the risks for yourself and get on with things BA staff are a bunch of greedy doughnuts You are never going to earn big boy bucks working for someone else who needs to earn money BA staff thing they will make it big by flying all day long well wrong They dont deserve a penny the lot of them if i was BA i would start firing people and hiring replacements quickly start taking temp staff and ride out this problem in the least embarrasing way People thaat dont understand we are in a Recession are muppets you cant expect your boss to give you a raise right now he probably dont have enough to pay for the light in the office and your asking for a raise selfish Doughnuts if you ask me General Hatred is directed really at staff not BA
  • JJ
    Disgusting, simply lazy. I hope BA can somehow sack these people and find new recruits instead, I cant believe there were so many people at this thing, and how crazy they went. There will be major cutbacks due to losses thanks to these scumbags, then they'll have to go work minimum wage at a budget airline if they're lucky, but hopefully won't be hired when they look at the records of when they left BA, and find that it was just another lazy striker
  • Ceri
    Quote you tube user mrsmartname "Lambs leading themselves to the slaughter." Can't get my head around their reaction... some one need to pop their bubble.
  • cabal10
    I get paid under 14K a year as a 999 operator... I wish i could afford to go on strike, i haven't had a pay rise or bonus in 5 years. To be honest, I think my job holds alot more significance than a glorified waiter/waitress with attitude.
  • Matt
    Aaaaah yes, those damn greedy workers. Here's what BA turned down in April: "Unite has tabled measures, including if necessary, a company-wide deferral of pay award for 2009/10, alongside the deferral of incremental pay increases for those earning basic pay over £14,500, and headcount efficiencies following a reduced flight schedule. This will allow hundreds to reduce their working hours so meeting a long-standing demand from workers." In July the union was talking about pay CUTS as well, which the company turned down: "British Airways workers have warned that a strike over the summer is "looming" unless the management backs away from plans for "damaging" job cuts that risk ruining its position as "the world's leading airline". The airline, led by Willie Walsh, the chief executive, intends to cut 3,700 jobs in a drastic attempt to save money. The unions have rejected the offer, and it was revealed yesterday that they are prepared to consider a 2.6 per cent pay cut as well as a two-year pay freeze, which it claims would save as much as the £220 million that the management hope to save with its strategy." Then the airline announced changes without advising the Union first: The company's forced the staff to this. I wanted to head to the US over christmas, but now won't be. I still support the staff's right to strike, and they've really got to pick a time which will do damage to the company, as that's the real point for a strike. It's the nuclear option, and one that no-one takes the choice to do lightly.
  • mo
    whats the difference between BA staff and ebineszer scrooge? Scrooge gave a shit about saving christmas.
  • BOB
    What's the difference between The Daily Mail and the posters on Bitterwallet? Answer: None. In the absence of fact they make up any old shite. There must be knee-marks in the ceilings all over the country judging by the ill-informed spewings of bile and piss in this place. Think about this-every time a worker strikes, they don't get paid. That's right, they GIVE UP pay to fight for their situation. Does that sound like an easy thing to do? No - that's why the situation has to be so bad that striking is the very, very last option. Of course, this will be ignored because of all the poor holidaymakers. Bless.
  • melanie
    I think its shocking that the cabin crew are going on strike as far as i can see they have an easy life, handing out drinks, staying in nice hotels and shagging each other senseless after nicking the mini bottles from the galley!! They get very well paid for this as well....absolutely disgusting!!
  • Lam
    In the event Pilot O2 is reading this today - Cabin crew do not earn £9300 - that would be illegal as its below the minimum wage ( as pointed out by James ) Average earnings for cabin service directors are £56,000 on long-haul and £52,000 on short-haul. Junior crew get £35,000 for long-haul, £26,000 for short-haul. As seen on the BA website ” A message from Willie Walsh”
  • marcowil
    I have to agree with BOB. Striking is a last resort and those on strike will lose a days wage for every day on strike, so they must feel very strongly about this. Of course, the media are trying to spin this into poor people losing their well earned christmas holidays due to the terrible actions of BA staff - like the posh woman on the BBC this morning who was going to have to stay at home this Christmas rather than holiday in Mauritius! This is exactly the sort of person I always expect to be using BA for their flights, not ordinary members of the public
  • Sam
    Tbh, I don't blame the BA staff - just imagine yourself being given the option of a long xmas break instead of dealing with a mass of us (sometimes rude) Brits going away for new year. No surprise really... but what about the bigger picture? BA, a company we've all read about struggling throughout the year, so what's the last thing it can afford? Selfish staff going on strike during xmas season - surely this will only drive customers to other airlines and put yet another nail in the coffin of their employers. Why can't the strikers see this could well be the cause of BA's collapse? They think this will drive them to get what they want? Well, if the purse is empty then no matter how much they plead nothing can appear. The entire UK industry, hell the world, is struggling to a degree - we all should be supporting our employers and grateful of jobs during this time - compared to 12 months ago there's far more people out of work trying to cope with this capitalist holiday, I'm sure many of them would love what the strikers have. Just look at the UK car industry - multiple strikes in the 70s and what happened since then? Just how do strikes benefit the workers in the long run?
  • Paul S.
    Striking is a last resort for some. But anybody who has been involved in or spent any time around unions know that some people are thirsty for strikes, to stick it to The Man. Let's not pretend there are people in unions who don't enjoy that rumble of power in their belly and make the most of it. BA are carrying a debt of nine figures, have stripped out services to the point where comparisons to Ryanair aren't unreasonable and they've pulled all the unprofitable routes. Something's got to give or BA will go to the wall. Striking at a time of year that hurts the public the most as well the company not only loses support for staff, but forces the company deeper into debt and loses them repeat business in the future. I'm really not sure how the union thinks this action safeguards the jobs of their members.
  • Shooter M.
    The Sky Marshall must be a wonderful boss. I don't see any indication that his trolly dollies are striking.
  • Rodders
    Sam said "Just how do strikes benefit the workers in the long run?" Research history and you will find the evidance. I've been on strike on 3 separate times in the last 10 years. Because I withdrew my labour, I along with 700 others proved that we should be taken seriously and talks started before we even got to the third day. I benefited with less hours, equal pay across the organisation and a decent HR department now getting the best out the employees. Things are now so good, we will be in the next update of the Sunday Times Top 100 Employers. Companies that treat staff bad deserve to go downhill, recession or not. Companies that look after their staff get the best out of them ( Jonn Lewis, M&S, asda NHS, PWC). The British Layland/Rover collapse was due to shit cars and lack of investment in newer models. The unions in the 70s and 80s played only a minor part in the downfall.
  • mister o.
    it come down to respect. the workers have been shown absolutely none by the bullying management, who have ignored attempts by the union to negotiate a path out of this problem. what purpose does it serve to publish an editorial style piece in the far right press denigrating your staff. why publish projected staff earnings? it appears that mr walsh has issues with unions and has decided to pick a fight. compare the press coverage with the corus workers in the north east. they are showered with pity in the press, but the story would be different if they had some sort of leverage and could use it- just what the ba staff are doing to try and safeguard their liveliehoods. yeh, you can sneer and say they are this and that, but they are earning a living, and probably have to endure all kinds of crap from joe public. they have been forced into a corner and have been forced to seek the last resort, a withdrawl of labour. it makes sense to do this at an important time of the year, as it is more likely to result in a favourable outcome. and sam, the uk car industry failed because of bad management and piss poor car design...the workers skill was never in question, just ask nissan, honda and any number of perfomance specialists based here. good buisness model , good managers and skilled staff =success. ba need to look at the managers.
  • John
    Matt - so you already had bought a ticket to go to the US over christmas, and really don't mind losing your flight / money? Or you were waiting to book last minute when they cost £2k+? Pull the other one mate...
  • John
    Rodders - how is a company meant to be 'looking after its workers' when it's facing the biggest financial crisis in its history? Unless they all want to be out of a job, cuts HAVE to be made, just as in any other industry / company. They're not the first workers whose jobs have been threatened in the past year or so you know...
  • Businessman
    IT'S JUST BUSINESS. All companies try to force down their payroll cost as hard as they can. The less of their money they give to employees the more they can keep for themselves. Employees resist this by whatever means are open to them because they in turn also want to maximise their slice. Both sides live with a perpetual mexican standoff and mostly it balances out. When sometimes companies turn the screws a bit too far then you start seeing the logical response from employees who imagine (correctly) that banding together and saying no is an optimum strategy. Of course they are going to do this at the time when their opponent is most vulnerable why would they not. Anyone who thinks either side is wrong or immoral doesn't understand what's going on. It's not evil tight-arse BA, or greedy lazy strikers, IT'S JUST BUSINESS. Yes I do think the world should be organised differently to avoid these inevitable although stupid conflicts with collateral damage (ruined xmases) but it's not.
  • PMJ
    I find it really sad reading these comments. Striking is a last resort. I went on strike 8 years ago and it was something that i did not do lightly. To be put in a position where your only option is to give up 12 days of wages to try and make management see that what they are doing is not in the best interest of the company or the work force or the customers. Public opinion is great, if we could all see the sacrifice these people are making rather than focusing on the outcome it would be great. But public opinion will not win you anything. I feel sorry for the people losing there flights but i feel equally sorry for the people at BA that will have no pay this Christmas with the real prospect of no job in the new year. Has this country really come down to this, if you strike and ruin one persons day your hated by the press and peoples sympathies fall with the management. Thatcher must be so proud of what she created.
  • Tritonbairn
    Aaron wrote "they are the highest paid Cabin Crew in the world. Not only that, but they are the only airline’s staff that have a union" And the two aren't connected? Why is everyone wanting these jobs to be downgraded to what others who aren't in a Union get, when we should be encouraging all the rest to strive for what BA Employees have. As previously pointed out Strike is the very last option.
  • Tritonbairn
    If it weren't for the Unions, we'd still be sending kids down mines and up chimneys!
  • fabrizio
    is BA still in business? I would be crazy to book a flight with them after all the strikes they do. they staff is lazy & very silly and hope they going to administration soon, them hard working people who save all year to booked a expensive flight to see their relatives in xmas can do it without any trouble.
  • frequentflyer
    BA is a poory run airline. It is arrogant and outdated. It gives poor service to customers. This is why I moved to Virgin and Emirates. Even so, to strike when the airline is in a critical financial position is daft. The outcome of this will be more job losses and fewer routes, and older less comfortable aircraft to save cash. A better approach would be to approach the shareholders who do not want to see BA go down and get them to sack Walsh and the mangement, and put in place people who know how to manage and airline. I hear Stelios or Kheller might be appropachable... Singaopre airlines are the world most profitable airline. They do this by making the customer feel special - good service in the cabin. They also have the youngest fleet so most fuel efficient. This is not rocket power. The strike will be a death knell for BA and the cabin staff have to see beyond what their 'union' is telling them. But the real issue is a combination of poor management, and unions that cant see beyond political hype. A doubkle whammy. ps I am a BA sharholder.
  • Wibble
    BA cabin crew and their union are as bad as Postmen and their union. Apparently the Gatweich BA staff have been wqorking to the new rules for the last three years. They think that the Heathrow staff should just shut the f*ck up and get on with their jobs. Apparently hardly anyone at Gatwick voted to strike.
  • Wibble
    NOTICE TO BA CREW AND THEIR UNION USHITE: Pissing the public off is NOT the best way to get support. THE ABOVE SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO YOU.
  • Observer
    Bob "Of course, this will be ignored because of all the poor holidaymakers. Bless." You are very cynical and selfish. PMJ "i feel equally sorry for the people at BA that will have no pay this Christmas with the real prospect of no job in the new year" Crew chose to strike. Those that have either left BA or gone part time have done so voluntarily. There is no threat to jobs except that introduced by a company-wrecking strike. The proposed changes are tough but fair in a harsh environment that is not going to suddenly improve. The company must stay afloat. There will be no government bail-out.
  • Nobby
    Anyone sensible would have known not to book with BA. This strike has been coming for a while, and the unions want to make sure their point is known by everyone, so they strike at probably the most important time of the year for travel - at least when it will be in the news for ruining people's christmas holidays. The answer is simple, the public should not book or travel with BA. Let the company go bust. Let the strikers lose their jobs and pension plans. Let the bosses lose their jobs and pension plans.
  • James
    To people like Bob, PMJ and the ironically titled businessman. You keep talking about the staff as having no choice but to strike and how sorry we should feel that they will not get paid for the period they strike. You also talk about the necessity of securing their jobs. Can I suggest you open your eyes. Look out in the world of business at the moment and you will see that tens if not hundreds of thousands of people have been made redundant or lost their jobs. Had they been members of unions, nothing would have changed. If there is no money, there are no jobs. To propose that exacerbating the company's almost impossible financial situation is going to help you just shows the simple lack of intelligence the union leaders and staff have. The fact is, BAs collapsing business will in no doubt be partly due to the previous strikes when people's holidays have been ruined by strikes and they have vowed never to use BA again. Already the internet is littered with people saying that as a result of the confirmed strike this Christmas they will never use BA again. How do you propose BA will rebuild the confidence that you have shattered? more marketing? lower prices? both things that cannot be achieved without cost savings which you are preventing. The fact is, by all accounts BA staff have had it easy in terms of pay. Head to any one of the professional flight forums and you will see that staff in the industry widely accept that BA pay far more than most other airlines (except for to pilots ironically). You need to understand that significant savings need to be made either by drastic pay cuts which none of you will accept (2.6% or whatever was offered is a joke) or by job losses, again which none of you will accept. I have no doubt in my mind that BA staff will be the next generation of benefit claimants bitching that all the immigrants came over and took your jobs. But on the strength of what is going on at the moment if we did have a BA staffed with Polish and eastern bloc countries, it would probably be profitable, run on reduced staff with a higher work efficiency. Welcome to the real world, turns out the recession was not something just on tv eh.
  • Brian's U.
    Can anyone tell me exactly what the strike is about.? There are vague comments about extended working hours and job cuts but to be honest if a company is losing money hand over fist then job cuts are bound to happen.
  • Businessman
    I don't see how emotional attacks on the personalities of BA, Unite, or posters in this thread are in any way helpful to a rational debate. Or maybe that's the answer let some of the above lexically-challenged armchair "economists" provide employment relations consultancy to sort it out I'm sure all the problems would be resolved immediately lol.
  • Lemon
    Its a simple calculation =strike (few hundred million ££ losses - customers) - job. How about just embracing change, you galloping spanners.
  • Sherin
    A flight legally requires one cabin crew member per flight. If not the airline will be taken down by aviation authorities. Therefore fliying without cabin crew is not an option. Maybe the general public can volunteer for crewing and be trained to fly b4 Xmas.
  • Jane
    bunch of idiots the lot of them. im going into the airline industry next year and certainly won't be opting for selfish actions like this over chritsmas. unite my arse love! spoiling the holdays of thousands (me included thank you kindly.... NON-refundable hotel your arses!) clearly the trolly dollies just get in on the blonde hair or wrinkly old faces... don't have the brains they were born with. ba in money trouble = staff striking over christmas = loss for ba = loss of jobs for airline staff. fire em all and hire new ones! im not complaining for £30k a year... train me!
  • BOB
    "The fact is, by all accounts BA staff have had it easy in terms of pay. " That's a cast iron argument based in FACT Ladies and Gentlemen. (By all accounts). Thanks for proving my point James.
  • Dave
    Whatever the BA staff decide about striking,the damage to Ba has already happened. I am in charge of all my companies long haul flights,normally booked Club/Business class. Most of this business in the past was spent with BA but I have been directed to place all future business with Virgin. I liked flying with BA,their staff were polite,their lounges very smart and flat beds were comfortable but Virgin offer similar,albeit at slightly higher cost. I sincerely hope that BA goes bust,the greedy staff are sacked and someone like Ryanair or Easyjet takes over the bits they want and injects some competition into long haul....not sure I would fly with them but it will make Virgin more competitive. I almost wonder whether Walsh has engineered this strike(it happened all the time when I was at Ford),striking workers do not have to be paid,the planes don't burn fuel on the ground and it would be a good way to get rid of overpaid workers and start with a 'clean slate'
  • Kevin
    I'm a member of Unite (only way to know what is going on with general issues as well as the normal minimal 1% pay increase each year which has taken 8 months to pay each year) and I can say they are massively out of touch with the real world.
  • James
    No worries BOB. You see there is a great big world of information out there which is easily accessible. Why not try and educate yourself before casting aspersions on comments made by others. If you cant be bothered just go the cabin crew section of the professional flyer forums and read the comments yourself by people who are actually earning the salaries.
  • Julia
    2nd ballot for strike action!!! Am sick of this!! Booked a holiday back in summer of 2009 which inc's BA flights. All booked well in advance in good faith. Previous to booking we saved for almost 2 years for this holiday for March 2010 and like many other families have gone without to make sure it happens!!Well lo and behold a 2nd ballot for strike action from March 2010. 2 EXTREMELY upset children whom have been waiting for 2 years to go on their holiday to Disney Florida and may not do due to this!!If this goes ahead I will never fly BA again. They are already messing us about and we have been told that we will not know until after 22nd Feb (approx 2 weeks before we fly) if our flight is cancelled or not!! Disgracefull!! BA cabin crew is certainly NOT putting their customers first!!! I would like to add however that I have spoken to BA ground staff on numerous occasions whom assist with bookings for customers. The feed back is they are so against further strike action and will do all they can inc train as cabin crew, GOOD ON EM!! The rest of u will join the que at your local benefits agency , so think hard before voting yes to strike , you need your customers to survive!!! NO CUSTOMERS NO JOBS! AND ITS NOT EASY TO GET ANOTHER AT THE MO!!

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