British Airways’ removal of travel concessions to be challenged by union


LONDON (Dow Jones)–Trade union Unite on Monday said it will mount a legal challenge to a decision by British Airways PLC (BAY.LN) to remove staff travel concessions from cabin crew who have engaged in strike action this year against the U.K. flag carrier.

In a statement, Unite, which represents cabin crew at BA, said that after careful consideration it believes that the action by the airline’s management breaches European human rights legislation.

British Airways said it would defend its position vigorously. “Staff travel is a non-contractual perk that the company can withdraw at its discretion,” it said. “Our cabin crew knew that if they took part in strike action they would lose their staff travel perks.”

At the same time, the union said it is preparing to provide additional assistance to members who have suffered particular financial hardship as a result of BA docking additional days’ pay from those who went on strike. It didn’t provide further details.

Unite will meet BA next week for further talks under the auspices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service in a bid to resolve the long-running dispute.

BA and its cabin crew have been at loggerheads for some 17 months over changes to working conditions that the loss-making airline says are necessary to cut costs and compete with industry rivals. Cabin crew have so far held 22 days of strikes this year.

Cabin crew last week rejected the airline’s latest proposal aimed at ending the standoff, which has cost BA over GBP150 million.

“Unite remains determined to secure a settlement to this dispute acceptable to cabin crew,” said Joint General Secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley in the statement. “Until such an agreement is secured, we will continue to support our members financially and legally to ensure that every avenue is explored to achieve justice for these loyal and professional men and women who have been so badly treated by their employer.”