British Airways cabin crew have voted massively in favour of strike action in a bitter row over jobs, pay and working conditions, sources said today.
Thousands of members of the Unite union backed industrial action in a ballot paving the way for a series of strikes over Christmas.
The official ballot result will be announced later but sources told the Press Association that there had been an 80 per cent turnout, with a nine to one majority in favour of industrial action.
Strikes will cost the airline tens of millions of pounds every day, hitting flights at one of the busiest times of year for the industry.
The British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa) said it was conscious of the disruption action would cause to passengers going on holiday or visiting family and friends over Christmas.
But Bassa, a section of the Unite union, said cabin crew had been left with no choice by BA’s management.
In a press release issued before a mass meeting of cabin crew at which the strike ballot result was being announced, Bassa criticised the airline for making cuts which it said would affect the quality of service to customers.
It said: “We are deeply saddened to have reached the point where we must take industrial action to get our voices heard, but feel that we have been left with no other choice.
“We do not want to cause inconvenience, so even at this late stage we offer an opportunity for disruption not to occur.”
Bassa said there was no need for industrial action and urged BA to accept an earlier offer from the union, aimed at making savings.
Hundreds of cabin crew turned up at Sandown racecourse to attend the mass meeting, many wearing their BA uniforms.
Others arrived by special coaches to be told by Unite’s assistant general secretary Len McCluskey the result of the strike ballot linked to a long-running row over jobs, pay and conditions.