Hopes rise for BA crew peace deal
Hopes of an end to the long running British Airways cabin crew dispute have risen after union leaders held back from calling fresh strikes to allow peace talks to continue.
Members of Unite voted last month to stage fresh walkouts in their bitter row with the airline.
Under employment law Unite had until next Monday to decide whether to name strike dates. But in a joint statement the two sides said that a 28-day extension had been agreed to allow for further talks.
Unite's new leader, Len McCluskey, and BA's new chief executive, Keith Williams, have met in recent weeks to try to reach a deal over the dispute, which led to 22 days of strikes last year, costing the airline over £150 million.
The row started over cost-cutting plans but worsened to centre on the removal of travel concessions to crew who went on strike as well as disciplinary action taken against a number of Unite members.
The two sides said in a joint statement that the leaders accepted a lasting peace was essential for the wellbeing of all cabin crew and for the benefit of British Airways customers.
"To achieve such a peace, it is understood by British Airways that cabin crew must feel that their concerns are being fairly dealt with, and it is recognised by the Union that the management and acceptance of change is the key to lasting peace.
"British Airways and the union have embarked already on a process of cooperation 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 April 15. Both Parties accept that this would severely undermine any attempt at a genuine settlement."
"Accordingly, British Airways 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 our customers expect and to take all its staff confidently into the future."