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Strike ballot underway
Willie Walsh, BA's ceo, is to meet the joint general secretaries of the Unite union later this week as a strike ballot by the airline's cabin crew got underway today (November 16).
At the same time the carrier began introducing the changes in working practices which have contributed to the unrest among its 14,000 cabin staff.
A spokesman for the airline said bringing in the new practices, which include cutting the number of staff on Boeing 747 flights from 15 to 14, had started and there had been "no problems".
The ballot is due to close on December 14, leaving the way open for strike action from December 21 if cabin crew back stoppages.
Mr Walsh wrote to Unite's joint leaders Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley suggesting new meeting.
The meeting will take place "later this week", probably at BA headquarters near Heathrow, the airline spokesman said.
Previous meetings between the three men have failed to solve the long running dispute involving redundancies and savings at the loss making carrier.
Talks between the two sides have been going on for months and at one stage involved the UK arbitration service ACAS. But no solution has been reached.
The airline announced last month plans to make the equivalent of 3,000 jobs redundant with staff who wished to leave or switch to part time working.
It also announced other changes including a pay freeze and the cut in staff on the 747s.
Unite said today that it had issued ballot papers to its 12,000 members who are cabin crew.
It said it was concerned that the "far reaching changes" will place 747 staff under greater stress which will have a "negative impact on health and safety" and on service to passengers will suffer.
Brian Boyd, Unite's national officer for aviation, said: "The way to deliver change is through negotiation, not imposition.
"Of course the cabin crew are angry; they care passionately about this business but feel they are not being listened to on serious matters of service delivery.
"This business is all about its customers and the crew do not want them to suffer as a result of these changes.
"We ask British Airways to signal that it is willing to abandon its plans to impose change and work with us on a way forward, one which delivers for passengers, shareholders and the workforce.
"Then we could begin to tackle the roots of this damaging dispute and find a way forward."
The Union said it would also continue its legal action against BA.
It was refused an injunction to stop BA making the changes, but the dispute will now go to a full hearing in the New Year.
Steve Turner, also a national officer for aviation for the union, said it was "so concerned about the impact of these cuts on both crew and paying customers, that we have instructed employment specialists to establish an independent system to monitor their impact over the coming period."
Mr Walsh has urged the union to call off the ballot saying that structural change was necessary to secure long term profitability for the airline.
BA, which announced a £4.2bn merger with Iberia last week, posted a pre-tax loss of £292m for April to September earlier this month.
The airline has said it expects to make an annual loss this financial year.