Belfast Telegraph

BA flights axed as industrial talks stall

The first effects of the planned strike by British Airways cabin crew have emerged as time was running out to avert the action.

The war of words between Unite and the airline in the bitter row over cost-cutting continued, while the Conservatives attacked the Prime Minister for being ‘in hock’ to trade union backers.

Despite the deadlocked dispute, BA announced it had reached an agreement with unions over tackling its £3.7bn pension deficit.

With a three-day strike set to go ahead from Saturday, it emerged that UK tourists risked being stranded on a Caribbean island after BA cancelled their only weekly flight home.

The flight from Turks and Caicos to London has been axed on Sunday (March 21) due to the strike, with the Sunday March 28, service also at risk if the planned second wave of strikes goes ahead.

“You would have thought this would be the last flight BA would want to axe as there is only one a week,” said Nick Kidd, 51, one of the BA passengers who had been due to fly home this Sunday.

Unite's joint leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson sent a letter to union members and MPs complaining that BA management had become “increasingly macho”, and accusing chief executive Willie Walsh of “union busting” tactics.

A group of cabin crew circulated a letter today attacking Mr Walsh as well as Gordon Brown and Lord Adonis, who have both criticised the strikes.

They accused the Prime Minister and Lord Adonis of leaping “enthusiastically and cynically on the bandwagon of criticism”, adding: “Shame on you.”

Mr Woodley again called on BA to put back on the table an offer they withdrew last week after the strikes were called.

A BA spokesman said: “We have put this offer to Unite on three occasions. At no stage has the union said it would recommend the offer to its members — and over |the weekend it compiled a detailed briefing for its members, setting out why it should not be |accepted.”

BA has vowed to keep 60% of its passengers moving during the three-day strike but has not made announcements about flights for a four-day walkout due from March 27.

Belfast Telegraph