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British Airways boss unhappy with union leaders

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British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has launched a scathing attack on union bosses as the row over cost-cutting intensified following the announcement of seven days of strikes by cabin crew.

Unite said on Friday that thousands of its members will walk out for three days from March 20 and for four days from March 27 after the collapse of talks aimed at resolving a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and working conditions.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Walsh described the move as “another cold-blooded threat” to the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers.

He accused the union of being stuck in a time warp and said it was blind to the difficulties the airline faces in the “worst recession for 80 years”, adding that it “prefers to believe the earth is flat”.

Insisting the airline would not be grounded by the strikes, Mr Walsh said: “The flag will continue to fly.”

He wrote: “(Unite) refuses to get the message. It prefers to believe the world is flat. It believes nothing changes. That economies go on growing for ever. That competition does not increase. That practices born in the cosy, nationalised industries of 40 years ago must be preserved in the global economic swirl of today.”

Unite revealed plans to ballot its 12,000 cabin crew members on an offer from BA but any hopes of a last-ditch reprieve for travellers were scuppered when the airline said the offer was no longer on the table.

BA temporarily stopped selling seats on flights operating on the strike days, adding that until it revised its flying schedule next week, all passengers who have booked to travel between March 19 and 31 will have the choice of either rebooking or cancelling and obtaining a refund.

Unite urged BA to “see sense” and put its offer back on the table, saying the airline’s decision to withdraw it “beggared belief”.

BA has drawn up contingency plans to deal with the strikes with up to 1,000 volunteer staff ready to work as cabin crew – including hundreds of pilots. The airline will also hire 23 fully-crewed planes from charter companies to help run flights from Heathrow.

Source: Press Association

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