15-Apr-2011 8:54 AM

Unite holds back from new wave of strikes at British Airways

Unite Union stated (14-Apr-2011) it has held back from called a fresh wave of strikes by British Airways cabin crew, despite majority support for further industrial action in the latest ballot, to enable talks between the carrier and the union to continue (Reuters/Bloomberg/The Telegraph/IB Times, 14-Apr-2011). The move reflects an improvement in the negotiating climate in recent weeks following the appointment of Keith Williams as British Airways CEO and Len McCluskey as Unite’s general secretary. British Airways cabin crew last month voted in favour of taking fresh strike action in a dispute that has so far cost British Airways more than GBP150 million. The dispute, which commenced in Nov-2009 when the carrier announced it was reducing crew pay and staffing levels, now centres on issues including the removal of travel concessions from crew members who took part in earlier strikes. Meanwhile, British Airways and Unite, in their joint statement, stated a lasting settlement will require resolution on matters important to cabin crew:

  • Restoration of staff travel with seniority on implementation of the settlement including a new working relationship with the local representatives;
  • A binding independent review of disciplinaries to ensure fairness;
  • Measures to address concerns on earnings and lifestyle associated with the established changes in onboard crew numbers and the introduction of Mixed Fleet. [more]

British Airways and Unite: "The new general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, and the new CEO of British Airways, Keith Williams, have had exploratory talks over the last few weeks and are committed to seeking an honourable and fair settlement to the long running dispute. Both men accept that a lasting peace is essential for the well-being of all cabin crew and for the benefit of British Airways’ customers ... British Airways and the union have embarked already on a process of co-operation building, assisted by a highly-regarded external company. It is hoped that this continuing process will help develop and strengthen trust. The current strike ballot mandate given by Cabin Crew means industrial action must be announced by 15th April ... both parties accept that this would severely undermine any attempt at a genuine settlement. Accordingly, BA is prepared to grant an extension of 28 days to the union. A variety of meetings will now take place in the belief that the optimism of recent weeks can be turned into a reality that will allow British Airways to focus on delivering the high-quality service its customers expect and to take all its staff confidently into the future," Company Statement, 14-Apr-2011.

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