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British Airways Faces Cabin Crew Strike

British Airways faced fresh labour unrest on Monday as 96% of cabin crew at one of its main unions voted in favour of strike action over proposed changes to working conditions and a new pension plan.

The Transport & General Workers' Union said over 8,000 cabin crew had voted to strike over sickness absence policies, pay grading and staffing levels, as well as the airline's proposal to reduce its pension deficit.

However, a union spokeswoman said the dispute could be resolved through negotiation, and there was no intention to give the required seven days' strike notice prior to a planned meeting with BA management on Tuesday.

"We are very disappointed by the T&G's threat of what would be completely unnecessary industrial action," BA said in a statement, adding that it would meet union leaders this week.

Europe's third-biggest airline said earlier this month it had won the backing of leaders at all four of its main unions but still needs the support of union members for plans to change working practices and reduce its 2.1 billion pound ($4.1 billion) pension deficit.

The airline has agreed to make a one-off contribution of 800 million pounds ($1.6 billion) into the pension fund in return for changes to benefits as part of a plan to lower its 2.1 billion pound deficit to 900 million pounds.

Combined with a one-off saving of 400 million pounds and changes to future benefits from the New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS), BA expects to make annual contributions of around 280 million pounds over the next decade.

T&G, which represents around 30,000 workers at BA, has said it expects its shop stewards to announce their position on the pension issue later this week.

Shop stewards at the smaller GMB Union said on Friday they would not recommend the airline's offer to their 2,600 ground crew members at BA.

The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) said on Friday it had unanimously endorsed the recommendation and planned to announce the results of balloting its 3,000 members on Feb. 9.

Amicus shop stewards, representing around 4,000 workers, are set to discuss the matter on Jan. 22.

Shares in BA were down 1.1% at 545 pence.