Greece, UK Rail, London Underground and BA

General Strike in Greece, Wednesday 15 December
Hot on the heels of Spain’s wildcat air traffic controller strike which wreaked havoc for thousands of passengers recently, a general strike in Greece today has left planes grounded for 24 hours. Ferries will also not be operating at Athens main port, Piraeus.

Unions across both public and private sectors in Greece have taken the action in response to the government’s austerity measures.

UK Rail and London Underground Strikes

To add to delays caused by snow in the past week, underground workers have voted to walk out on Boxing day over a dispute about pay and days off. The action will affect transport to London’s major airports as well as those planning to travel by Eurostar – checking ahead and allowing extra travel time is advised.

Tube workers will go on strike along with train drivers from London Midland and Arriva Trains Wales. The London Midland walk out will affect trains from London to Liverpool and Shrewsbury to Bedford on 23 December but there is no date as yet for Arriva’s action – both are about pay disputes.

New strike threat for BA

Unite will ballot British Airways cabin crew next week for strike action over the half-term holidays.

The action could also be extended to the period over Easter and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29.

The Unite union has given BA chiefs seven days notice of its intention to ballot cabin crew members on strike action.

The month-long ballot starts next Tuesday and will end on 21 January.

The union would then have to give an additional seven days notice of a strike date, but could continue to strike for up to three months after that date without having to hold another ballot.

Unite said the ballot is over the following five outstanding issues:

1. The immediate restoration of staff travel concessions, in full, to the crew from whom they were taken by BA.
2. Binding arbitration, through ACAS, of all cabin crew disciplinary cases related to the original dispute.
3. The restoration of all earnings docked from crew who were genuinely off sick during strike dates.
4. Full and proper discussion of the trade union facilities agreement at the company with the immediate removal of all threats and sanctions made by BA in relation to this.
5. The introduction of mixed fleet on different terms and conditions without the agreement of the trade union.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: "British Airways knows what it must do to end this dispute. Four of the five outstanding issues are no cost issues for the airline and are about treating cabin crew with dignity, respect and ending the climate of persecution. The fifth item is about stopping BA from imposing a near minimum waged workforce and killing their brand.

"Unite is still open to talks but BA must appreciate the strength of feeling across the airline about how badly they’ve handled this dispute. BA must get serious and work with us to settle the issues before us."

BA immediately issued a statement saying Unite had reneged on a deal struck in October.

“The union agreed last week to hold further talks with us, but has instead issued a strike ballot. It continues to be riven by internal divisions and its behaviour remains dysfunctional,” said the airline.

“We have put forward very fair proposals that enable our existing Heathrow crew to remain the best rewarded in the UK airline industry. Despite the difficult economic conditions we have faced, we have made savings in ways that have avoided compulsory redundancies.

“Industrial action would be a grossly disproportionate response to the issues that Unite continues to press.

“Should any industrial action take place, we are confident that our well-established contingency plans will allow us to operate normal timetables at Gatwick and London City airports. At Heathrow, we will aim to run a substantial proportion of our short-haul programme and 100 per cent of our long haul operation

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