BA caterer Gate Gourmet, union set to resume talks


LONDON (XFNews) - Crisis talks are set to resume between US in-flight caterer Gate Gourmet and trade union officials in a bid to resolve a row over the fate of 670 sacked workers, a trade union spokesman said.

"They're re-starting and we very much hope we will be able to get a settlement for the 670 members who were sacked in such a disgraceful manner," a spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) told Agence France Presse. The talks were due to resume at 3.00 pm after they broke down late Tuesday.

Gate Gourmet has refused to agree to the union's demands to reinstate all the workers.

And the loss-making caterer has warned that unless a new contract is signed with British Airways PLC -- its largest client -- its operations at London Heathrow Airport may go under.

A deal between BA and Gate Gourmet was agreed in principle on Tuesday night, but union officials have warned it was contingent on the labour dispute being resolved.

Gate Gourmet chairman David Siegel returned to the United States on Wednesday, but the TGWU spokesman said: "His absence should not get in the way of a deal. Technology does allow him to be involved through telephone conferencing and video conferencing if necessary."

"The issue for us is making sure we get a fair settlement for all our members, both for those who were sacked and those who are still working at the company," the union's spokesman added.

The two sides held negotiations on Monday and Tuesday but they ended in acrimony with the union accusing Gate Gourmet of walking out.

Britain's flagship carrier BA said on Tuesday that it had agreed terms of a new deal that extends and improves Gate Gourmet's contract to prepare 88,000 hot meals a day for its flights out of the west London airport.

But the revised BA contract was conditional on Gate Gourmet reaching a satisfactory agreement with its workforce.

The Gate Gourmet staff were sacked two weeks ago in an industrial dispute triggered by a restructuring plan to stem haemorrhaging losses.

The mass dismissal inspired a wildcat strike by many BA ground staff, which forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights at Heathrow, disrupting travel for 100,000 passengers.

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