A British court has overturned a ruling blocking strike action by 12,000 British Airways cabin crew, opening the door to a series of five-day strikes commencing as early as Monday.
The Court of Appeals in London voted 2-1 to overturn an injunction barring the strike, saying the Unite union’s failure to provide members with a breakdown of ballot results was not enough to render an overwhelming strike vote invalid. An earlier High Court ruling stated that Unite’s reliance on e-mails, the Internet and notices in airport crew rooms meant it hadn’t adequately informed members about the result of a month-long ballot. The union shot back that workers were perfectly aware of the results and no members had complained about being ill-informed.
BA says a walkout would ground 30% of flights slated to carry 25,000 people a day, including 40% of long-haul services from London Heathrow.
A Bloomberg report says union officials are still willing to engage in talks to prevent more strikes. “We will talk to BA at every opportunity including now and over the weekend,” Unite General Secretary Derek Simpson said after the ruling.
The union representing cabin crew has already held two walkouts over seven days in March, which cost the airline about $65 million. Unite says the latest contract offer is an improvement on previous proposals and might be acceptable to its members if British Airways agrees to reinstate travel privileges for cabin crew who went on strike in March and take back workers who were suspended or fired during the dispute. So far, BA has not budged on those recriminations and CEO Willie Walsh is under pressure from the financial sector to stand his ground.