British Airways cabin crew have voted against a revised pay offer to settle a long-running dispute, their union said Tuesday, but the airline said the ballot showed support for the union ebbing away.
The Unite union, which represents 90 percent of BA's 12,000 cabin crew, said 67 percent of its members voted against the offer which included two years of guaranteed rises in basic pay in addition to annual incremental increases.
The company said that only just over 5,100 people took part in the ballot, meaning 73 percent of cabin crew had not rejected the offer.
The union argued it meant that 85 percent had not given their approval.
This is now a wake up call for (BA chief executive) Willie Walsh, Unite's joint general secretary Tony Woodley told reporters. He said it was fantastic deal. He said given a free, open and democratic vote our members would flood to vote yes.
The dispute, which began last November when BA announced it was cutting crew pay and was reducing staffing, has cost the airline 150 million pounds ($227.9 million) in a series of strikes. BA's shares were down 1.3 percent Tuesday.
Woodley said BA's response to the latest vote would dictate whether there would be another vote for further walkouts.
As to whether there'll be a ballot for strike action will be determined by ... whether British Airways come back to the table and whether we can get a settlement now which a vast majority of British Airways employees are prepared to accept, he said.
BA said the result of the ballot indicated support for the union's action was ebbing away.
The union has lost the moral authority to represent the views of our cabin crew, the firm said in a statement.
Such a low turnout raises serious questions for Unite and shows it does not have a clear mandate to reject our offer. We would urge them to come back to the table to sign the agreement and end the dispute.
Last week, BA defended its stance in the dispute to shareholders at its annual general meeting.
Walsh said cost-saving measures such as reducing cabin crew on aircraft saved 42 million pounds in the last financial year and expected annual savings to amount to 62.5 million pounds.
I don't do that to be popular, but to ensure BA is viable for the future. It's not nice to be depicted as Hitler or the devil but do I lose any sleep over it? Certainly not, he said.
Woodley said the firm was trying to browbeat its employees into submission and said the decision to take away travel perks from striking staff remained a sticking point.
(Reporting by Michael Holden Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by David Cowell)