Ground Workers Rejects British Airways Pension Offer

Thousands of British Airways PLC ground staff threatened to strike against the carrier after rejecting the airline's latest pension proposal, union officials said Monday.

About 68 percent of General Municipal and Boilermakers' Union members voted against BA's pension offer in an informal mailed ballot. GMB said its workers were unhappy because they would have to pay more to keep their pensions at the current level, and that a strike over the changes was possible.

"GMB cannot rule out the possibility of an industrial action ballot sometime in the future if negotiations are unsuccessful," the union said on its Web site.

The union represents some 4,500 ground staff at BA. The airline's three other unions - Amicus, the Transport and General Workers' Union and the British Airline Pilots' Association - are recommending their members accept the deal, which BA says is necessary to plug the 2.1 billion pound ($4.09 billion) deficit in its pension plan.

The result of a poll on the plan by the British Airline Pilot's Association was due later Monday.

Two weeks ago, BA barely avoided a 48-hour walkout by staff over the pensions, incurring 80 million pounds ($157.3 million) in lost revenues because the company had already announced flight cancelations by the time the deal with the union was struck.

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