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British Airways cabin crews vote to strike

In all, 81 percent of Unite workers who voted supported the strike.
In all, 81 percent of Unite workers who voted supported the strike.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Union members representing BA cabin crews vote overwhelmingly to strike
  • Industrial action is over airline's plans to change cabin crew conditions
  • In all, 81 percent of nearly 80 percent of Unite workers who turned out voted to strike
  • Airline lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year, says changes will save $665 million

London, England (CNN) -- Union members representing British Airways cabin crews said Monday they have voted overwhelmingly to strike, though no date was announced.

The industrial action by the Unite union is over the airline's plans to change cabin crew conditions. Unite said then that working hours were to be extended and crew levels cut, changes that it said would damage customer service and hit the BA brand.

In all, 81 percent of the nearly 80 percent of Unite workers who turned out voted in favor of the plan, the union said Monday.

A Unite representative told reporters the vote was an "indication of deep sense of grievance that our members feel" and shows that the airline must resolve this "through negotiation and not through litigation and certainly not through intimidation."

Shop stewards are to meet Tuesday to consider a strike date.

British Airways said in a posting on its Web site that it regretted the strike announcement.

"The outcome of the ballot is very disappointing and brings a renewed threat of industrial action, which is completely unjustified," the airline said.

Video: BA cabin crews vote to strike
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"In the weeks before and during the ballot period, Unite claimed that we had breached individual crew members' contracts by making modest changes to onboard crew numbers on flights from Heathrow. We have always said this claim was false, and it was rejected by the High Court three days ago.

"The vast majority of crew who voted in this ballot will have done so before the High Court decision. We hope Unite will bear this fact in mind as it considers its next steps."

The airline said it believed it had made progress in recent talks and said it wanted to resolve the issues.

"However, we will not allow Unite to ruin this company," it added. "Should a strike take place, we will do everything we can to protect your travel plans as far as possible."

Last December, a judge blocked a planned 12-day strike by Unite that was to have begun just before Christmas.

The airline, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars last year, has said the changes would save the carrier $665 million.