UPDATE 3-BA says to take legal action to stop strikes

* BA to take legal action to avert strikes

* Twenty days of strikes due to start next week

(Adds union quote)

LONDON, May 14 (BestGrowthStock) – British Airways (BAY.L: ) will take
legal action to try and prevent cabin crew strikes due to start
next week, the company said on Friday, citing an irregularity in
the union’s strike ballot as the basis of its case.

Unions representing cabin crew have scheduled 20 days of
strike action over the next month, starting from May 18-22,
threatening renewed misery for travellers already hit by
walkouts and disruption caused by volcanic ash.

BA and the union representing its cabin crew had earlier in
the day said they were ready for discussions that could avert
the strikes, after a mediator invited the two sides to talk.

But BA, which stopped a December strike through the courts,
later said there was an irregularity in how the union had
conducted the ballot to strike. A similar move was used to block
a rail workers’ strike earlier this year.

“On this basis we have applied to the High Court for an
injunction to stop the 20 days of strikes planned from Tuesday,”
BA said in a statement.

The Unite union denied any ballot irregularity.

“I am confident that we conducted our ballot perfectly and
in compliance with the law. We’ll be defending our position in
court,” said spokesman Andrew Murray.

Before it said it would take legal action, BA had said it
expected to carry more than 70 percent of its customers, or over
60,000 passengers a day, during five days of strike action due
to start next week.

The strikes are part of a long-running disagreement over pay
and conditions that stems from BA plans to save 62.5 million
pounds ($93 million) a year to counter falling demand, volatile
fuel prices and greater competition.

BA says it operated 79 percent of long-haul and 58 percent
of short-haul flights during strikes in March.

But the seven days of walkouts that month still cost the
airline 45 million pounds while last month’s disruption as a
result of a volcanic eruption in Iceland cost it a further 20
million pounds a day in revenue. [ID:nLDE63I07E][ID:nLDE6451RI]

The latest bout of industrial action will see the first
strikes begin on May 18 and run until May 22. Then there will be
further walkouts on May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9.

A union representing BA pilots urged the new coalition
government on Friday to intervene to try to settle the dispute.

“The last three days have changed the face of British
politics with erstwhile political opponents coming together for
the common good,” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the
British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), which represents
3,000 of BA’s 3200 pilots.

“We call on government to use that political momentum to
help solve what are tired 1970s style industrial relations.”

The pilots are not involved in the dispute.

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(Reporting by Keith Weir, Kylie MacLellan and Mohammed Abbas;
Editing by Myra MacDonald)

UPDATE 3-BA says to take legal action to stop strikes