UK union chief says strikes won't hit Royal Wedding

LONDON (Reuters) - The head of Britain's largest trade union said on Tuesday that he did not expect British Airways BAY.L cabin crew to take strike action during the week of the Royal Wedding at the end of April.

Britain's Prince William (R) and his fiancee Kate Middleton arrive at The Thursford Collection in Norfolk, England, December 18, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS)

Len McCluskey, who is taking over as head of the Unite union, said there were no firm plans to strike during the Easter holidays, but did not rule out further industrial action when a ballot of BA cabin crew closes next week.

“My view is that there’s no likelihood of a strike at the Royal Wedding by British Airways cabin crew,” McCluskey told the BBC’s Today programme.

Asked whether the union would target the Easter holiday in April to maximise the damage caused by strike action McCluskey said:

“We wouldn’t pick Easter at all. We’ll wait for the outcome of the ballot. We’re still hoping that British Airways management will see sense and try to reach a settlement...if that’s not the case we’ll have to consider what action we can take.”

British media said cabin crew could stop work for a nine-day period, which includes the Easter weekend and April 29 when Prince William plans to wed his fiancée Kate Middleton.

Cabin crew, that are members of Unite, are currently voting on fresh strike action at the airline in a ballot that ends of Jan 21.

The dispute, which began last year over proposed cuts to pay and staffing levels, now centres on five issues including the removal of travel concessions from crew members involved in earlier strikes. It has so far cost BA 150 million pounds.

Prime Minister David Cameron wants Britain to use events like the Royal Wedding and the Olympics in 2012 to boost the economy at a time of deep spending cuts.

McCluskey refused to rule out the possibility of strike action during the Olympics in 2012.

Some commentators see industrial unrest mushrooming in 2011, particularly in April, when austerity measures will start to bite.

Train drivers’ union ASLEF also played down media reports that London Underground drivers plan to strike on the day of the Royal Wedding.

“The question of possible industrial action on the day of the Royal Wedding has not even been discussed by the union’s executive,” the union said on its website. (Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Keith Weir)