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A significant proportion of British Airways cabin crews have used a recent union ballot to indicate an overwhelming willingness to take industrial action should their employer not improve the latest pay and conditions deal presented to them.
As I discussed yesterday, British Airways ground crews, pilots and cabin crews have all been putting up a united front in negotiations with management and, over the weekend, the union representing BA’s “Mixed Fleet” crews held a consultative ballot to gauge its members’ willingness to go on strike following the recent pay deal rejection.
The result wasn’t even close.
A turnout of 79% is impressive for a ballot that was only open over the weekend, and the 94% to 6% vote in favor of strike action speaks for itself.
The result of the ballot isn’t a surprise so now we just have to wait and see if the vote has the effect of bringing management back to the table with an improved offer or if it will lead to the union naming dates for industrial action…I strongly suspect that it will be the latter.
British Airways pilots are also currently voting on the possibility of industrial action and, with that ballot set to close in under a week (22 July), it wouldn’t surprise me if Mixed Fleet Unite waited to see what the pilots plan to do before making its next move.
As things stand, the earliest Mixed Fleet crews can walkout is 30 July (British Airways has to be given two week’s notice of any action) and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.
British Airways has weathered Mixed Fleet strikes without too much difficulty in the past so I suspect that the airline is significantly more concerned about the intentions of its pilots than the intentions of its Mixed Fleet crews.
Throughout the recent negotiations, it will have been obvious to everyone involved that any indicative ballot on Mixed Fleet industrial action would result in overwhelming support for a strike, so the result of this weekend’s vote doesn’t really change very much.
The vote may have confirmed the crews’ appetite for strike action but it doesn’t really bring any new information to the table…so what will management and the union discuss should they met again?
I find it hard to believe that management didn’t put forward the best deal it is prepared to offer before this ballot took place (a deal that the union rejected), so I can’t see the result of this ballot changing the dynamics very much.
On the grounds that nothing much has changed, it’s unlikely that BA management is likely to suddenly now take the threat of strike action any more seriously than it was taking it last week, so I really can’t see how a strike can be avoided here.
Without an improved offer from BA, the cabin crews have no choice but to go on strike or all future threats of strike action will be rightfully ignored.
With full knowledge that its Mixed Fleet crews would vote for strike action if it didn’t improve its most recent pay offer, BA management chose not to come back with an improved deal – so why would it offer a better deal now?
I really hope I’m wrong but I now fully expect BA’s Mixed Fleet crews to go on strike next month – It’s probably now a matter of “when” not “if”.