EXPOSED: BA STRIKE FARCE; They Seek New Deal for Time off without Sick Leave Union Demand for Cabin Staff with Toenail Problems

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

EXPOSED: BA STRIKE FARCE; They Seek New Deal for Time off without Sick Leave Union Demand for Cabin Staff with Toenail Problems


Byline: DICK MURRAY

BRITISH AIRWAYS workers are to strike for the right to take time off for a cold or ingrown toenail, without it counting as sick leave.

The cabin crew union has drawn up a list of 12 conditions - also including blocked ears, visual injuries, conjunctivitis and herpes - which it says should excuse its members from flying.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers will be stranded as cabin crew walk out on three separate three-day strikes starting a week today and lasting into half-term. Crisis talks were taking place today.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh said sickness absence is so serious that 1,000 extra staff are employed to cover cabin crew on sick leave.

In 2005, before a new policy was introduced, crew took a "completely unacceptable" 22 days sick leave a year on average, he said.

That has now come down to 12 days, still five days more than the national average.

Mr Walsh said: "I encourage the Transport and General Workers Union, to sit down at the table and take as long as it takes to settle these issues."

The TGWU, which represents 11,000 crew, claims it is impossible for crew to fly safely with any of the 12 conditions.

Flight managers decide

whether cabin crew should not fly. But allowing staff time off without it counting towards official sick leave has always been discretionary.

The union claims managers have "drastically hardened" their attitude and are forcing cabin crew to fly when they are ill in an effort to cut costs. …

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