Business travellers could face more British Airways cabin crew strikes in September after Unite's members voted to reject the airline's latest pay offer.Unite union said 67% of its members voted against BA's final pay offer, which included a pay rise of 2.9% next year and 3% the year after.
The vote – with 3,419 members rejecting the deal and 1,686 accepting it – paves the way for the union to ballot for further industrial action. However, British Airways has urged further talks, as it says the numbers of staff voting in Unite's ballot point to 73% not rejecting the offer as around 5,500 did not vote at all.
"We are encouraged by the result of this ballot which shows that 73 per cent of our cabin crew did not reject our offer," said a spokesman. "The result shows that Unite does not have a clear mandate and we would urge them to come back to the table to sign the agreement and end the dispute."
Cabin crew have taken 22 days of strike action since March, costing BA more than £180m.
But Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: "For the fourth time in this dispute, cabin crew have given BA management the thumbs-down in a ballot.
"In a free vote - without any recommendation from the union - only 15% of crew accepted the deal that Willie Walsh claimed would be resoundingly accepted. This is a wake up call to BA. If Willie Walsh wants to lift the spectre of strike action from his schedule once and for all, he must come back with an offer acceptable to more than a tiny minority of the cabin crew. We are ready to talk."
Institute of Travel and Meetings chief executive Paul Tisltone said any September strikes would adversely impact business travellers.
"They are hitting the next peak business travel time," he warned.