Court set to rule on BA Christmas strike

A London court was set to decide on Thursday whether to grant an injunction blocking a strike by British Aiways cabin crew that threatens to create holiday travel chaos for up to one million people.

The High Court was due to rule on the legality of the mass walkout planned by the airline’s crews between December 22 and January 2, amid a deepening row over working conditions.

Last-ditch talks between BA executives and union bosses were meanwhile set to resume a bid to secure a deal and avoid disrupting the travel plans of passengers who had purchased tickets on the airline to visit friends and family over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday urged both sides to resolve the dispute, saying he was “very worried” about the threatened strike.

“We are agreed that the different sides in this dispute have got to look outwards and not inwards, they have got to think of the passengers that they serve, they have got to think about the future of their company,” Brown said.

Unite union joint leader Tony Woodley said that although members wanted to avoid a strike, there would be no backing down over demands.

“We don’t want a dispute and neither do our members, but we are not prepared to see major changes to terms and conditions imposed on our members.”

Cabin crew voted this week overwhelmingly to go on strike over job cuts, conditions and pay, a move that BA chief executive Willie Walsh described as “senseless”, while also vowing to stand firm over the job cuts.

BA launched the legal action in a bid to prevent the strike by 12 500 cabin crew members. It argued that Unite balloted workers who had already accepted voluntary redundancy, which they claim renders the overall vote invalid.

BA lawyer Bruce Carr told the High Court on Wednesday that the consequences of a strike for the airline over Christmas would be “financially disastrous”.

Judge Laura Cox will continue hearing the case before likely making a decision in the afternoon.

The industrial action comes at a critical point for loss-making British Airways, which is slashing costs and attempting to merge with Spanish carrier Iberia in a desperate fight to stay competitive.

Travellers meanwhile faced fresh headaches after some baggage handlers at Heathrow Airport announced they were set to go on strike next week in a row over pay.

Unite said Wednesday workers at Heathrow and Aberdeen will take action from December 22, with further walkouts planned on Boxing Day and January 3.

Eurostar train drivers and onboard staff are also set to walk out on Friday for 48 hours, union officials said, threatening disruption to services between London, Paris and Brussels. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid-19 vaccines offer hope as world leaders plan for future

Hopes over Covid-19 vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe, but the disease remains rampant and world leaders are urging people to be patient

Regulate vaping and e-cigarettes fairly

If South Africa is prepared to draw on international harm reduction best practice, it could generate good legislation to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes cleverly

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years

Wheeling and dealing for a Covid-19 vaccine

A Covid-19 jab could cost hundreds of rands. Or not. It’s anyone’s guess. Could another pandemic almost a century ago hold clues for handling the coronavirus today?

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

The cost of Covid: 25 years of progress, halted

Development has been set back by two decades, says the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

ATM withdrawal halts no-confidence vote against the president

The party wants the court to rule on the secret ballot issue first, with the case set to be heard in early February

Ruling deals crushing blow to zero-hours contracts

Ferrero factory workers have won the first battle in what might become one of South Africa’s next wars on casual and precarious work

Eusebius McKaiser: Mpofu, Gordhan caught in the crosshairs

The lawyer failed to make his Indian racist argument and the politician refused to admit he had no direct evidence

Corruption forces health shake-up in Gauteng

Dr Thembi Mokgethi appointed as new health MEC as premier seeks to stop Covid-19 malfeasance

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…