BA workers strike iminent as talks lead to no deal
Crucial talks aimed at averting strikes by British Airways cabin crew are set to end on Tuesday with time running out on reaching a deal before industrial action is called.
Officials from Unite have been embroiled in negotiations with the airline for months in a bid to resolve a bitter row over cost-savings, including cuts in cabin crew.
Union members twice voted massively in favour of industrial action, but Unite held off naming strike dates, preferring to continue with negotiations, which were held under the auspices of the TUC.
The TUC said in a statement: “Extensive talks have been taking place over the last seven weeks under the chairmanship of TUC general secretary Brendan Barber in an attempt to resolve the current dispute between British Airways and Unite cabin crew.
“On the initiative of Brendan Barber, both Unite and British Airways have now committed to the objective of completing these negotiations by close of play on Tuesday 9 March to determine whether or not a mutually acceptable settlement can be achieved.”
No formal document was put forward by the union side even though Unite was stressing its willingness to achieve savings.
The union offered a 2.6% pay cut last year, and it is understood there have been suggestions that could rise to 3.4%, followed by a two-year pay freeze, under moves to save tens of millions of pounds.
BA reduced the number of cabin crew on flights under cost-saving measures and chief executive Willie Walsh made it clear that the changes would not be reversed.
The union has until March 15 to announce industrial action, and will have to give seven days’ notice of any strikes, although it ruled out any stoppages over Easter.
BA maintains it has 1,000 volunteer staff ready to work as cabin crew in the coming weeks if a strike goes ahead. Mr Walsh also revealed BA will hire 23 fully crewed planes from charter companies to help run flights from Heathrow in the event of industrial action.
Source: Press Association