British Airways strike bites as passengers fly

09:54, March 22, 2010      

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British Airways (BA) cabin crew entered a second day of strikes Sunday that forced the cancel-ation of hundreds of flights, but the airline insisted thousands of passengers were still able to travel.

The Unite union said 80 percent of its 12,000 cabin crew members walked out on the first day Saturday of the three-day strike but, amid a war of words between the two sides, BA reported a good turnout at its two main airport hubs.

By Saturday evening, 1,157 cabin crew had turned up for work at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports, a spokesman said, accounting for 97 percent of crew on duty at Gatwick and 52.5 percent at Heathrow.

As a result, the airline said it was reinstating some short-and long-haul flights over the next few days and expected two-thirds of passengers to fly.

Members of Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, walked out at midnight Friday after talks with BA chief executive Willie Walsh on a dispute over working conditions broke down.

More than 1,000 flights were set to be canceled in the initial phase of the action – the first by BA cabin crew for 13 years – with a second walkout to follow for four days from March 27, targeting the busy Easter holiday period.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned the strike as “in no one's interest” and urged BA management and workers to hold fresh talks as soon as possible.

But the opposition Conservatives, favorites to win an election expected May 6, have accused Brown of a weak response, because of the strong union ties to his Labour party.

The union called on BA Sunday to restart negotiations.

Source: Global Times
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