updated 1/15/2007 11:53:51 AM ET 2007-01-15T16:53:51

Thousands of British Airways employees have voted to strike following disputes centering on sick pay and pensions, union officials said Monday.

In one of the largest majorities seen in such a dispute, some 96 percent of cabin crews voting on the action opted for a strike, the Transport and General Workers Union said. No strike deadline was set.

Cabin crew workers had claimed the airline pressured them to come to work even if they felt sick, the union said. A separate dispute focused on pension plans.

"BA cabin crew have voted to say the airline has gone too far," said Jack Dromey, the union's deputy-general secretary. "BA must rebuild the trust of its cabin crew by negotiating rather than imposing change and by listening to its staff rather than riding roughshod over their concerns."

British Airways officials issued a statement to decry what they described as an unnecessary strike.

"We have not been seeking to achieve new ways of working by imposition, but by negotiation as in many other areas of our business," the airline's statement said. "The leaders of the (union's) cabin crew branch have created a worrying time for our customers and our staff."

Further talks are set for later this week, both sides said.

A strike affecting Britain's biggest airline could cause disruptions at airports, which were rocked last year by hundreds of canceled flights after authorities uncovered a plot to bomb trans-Atlantic jet planes. Revelation of the plot led to enhanced security measures that led to widespread delays.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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