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Thomas Cook cabin crew voted in favour of a strike in a row over health and safety, the Unite union has said. About half of union members voted, with 74% of those backing industrial action in the dispute over rest breaks.

Thomas Cook Airlines said plans were in place to make sure customers would still be able to go on holiday in the event of strikes.

The British airline flies more than six million passengers a year to the US, continental Europe, Asia and Africa.

A Unite spokesman said union bosses would hold talks with the airline and conciliation service Acas on Thursday and next Tuesday. He said it was not the union’s intention to disrupt holiday plans during half-term, which for most schoolchildren begins this weekend.

For a strike to go ahead, the union would need to give Thomas Cook seven days’ notice, and that notice has not been served.

Thomas Cook has reduced its cabin crew’s breaks from one 20-minute break every six hours to one 20-minute break every 12 hours worked – the minimum indicated in the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidelines.

Unite says crew should have at least two 20-minute breaks every 12 hours. A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’re disappointed Unite cabin crew members have taken the decision to vote for strike action.

“The safety of both our people and our customers is our top priority and we rigorously adhere to the rules around crew breaks.”

He said the airline was “committed” to working with Unite to find a solution to end the dispute.

“Meanwhile, we’ve put together plans to ensure that our customers will still be able to go on holiday, despite any possible strike action.”

Thomas Cook Airlines has a fleet of 31 planes, employs 2,500 people and has its head office at Manchester Airport.

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