Gordon Brown slammed over worseningairline strike

LONDON - British Airways cabin crew entered the second day of a four-day strike yesterday, bringing further disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political.

LONDON - British Airways cabin crew entered the second day of a four-day strike yesterday, bringing further disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political.

The Unite trade union, which represents 12000 BA cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says there are likely to be more ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer.

Just weeks before an election expected on May 6, opposition Conservative leader David Cameron used the strike to attack Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose Labour Party receives much of its funding from Unite.

Cameron said yesterday that Brown displayed "weakness" in his response to the BA dispute, saying this was "partly because he's hocked to the unions".

"The unions have scented weakness in government and that's one reason why we're seeing so many strikes," he added.

Brown retaliated by saying there had been "far greater industrial peace" in the past 13 years of the Labour government than there had been in the previous 18 years of Conservative rule.

Talks between BA and Unite broke down on the eve of the first strikes on March 20 and there is no date for them to resume.

"Until a sensible proposal comes on the table, this dispute will continue," Unite's Steve Turner said yesterday.

The strikes centre on what the union says is BA CEO Willie Walsh's severe cost-cutting strategy. Walsh has warned the airline could fold in a decade unless these changes are carried out.

BA and Unite have different opinions about how the airline has faired during the strike, with Walsh saying customers had been "positive" about disruptions.

Unite claims six Heathrow flights had to be unloaded on Saturday because of lack of crew. This is denied by the airline.

BA said last month it expected a record loss in the current financial year due to weak demand for air travel. - Sapa-AFP.

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