Unite Offers Renewed British Airways Strike Talks

by Alister POOLE on March 17, 2010

The first wave of strikes at British Airways is only a few days away after Unite, the union representing its cabin crew, announced the dates just last Friday. The announcement came after negotiations broke down between the two parties yet again.

About mid-last week it looked as though British Airways and Unite would come to an agreement to avoid industrial action. But this hope was crushed abruptly with the strike dates being announced - 3 days starting March 20 and 4 days starting March 27. Then British Airways announced on Monday the flight schedule during the first wave of strikes, which would allow about 60% of their passengers to keep their travel plans. This, however, would leave about 30,000 passengers a day out of luck.

The move to announce strike dates caused Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to try their hand at helping to find a resolution. Both officials appealed to Unite to reopen negotiations and even called the strike deplorable.

Then on Tuesday, Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said that they are ready to return to serious talks, putting an offer on the table and making it public. He stressed their desire to make sure that all of British Airways’ flights operate. The union also said that the carrier will be deceiving the traveling public if they think that the industrial action can be avoided with a worse offer. They added that there needs to be a serious way to address the cabin crew’s worries over their cost-cutting measures.

These strike talks have been going on for months, after British Airways introduced new working conditions where 14 cabin crew instead of 15 would work on long-haul flights from Heathrow Airport. The carrier has already escaped one strike, which was overturned by a High Court ruling, but it doesn’t look like they will be able to avoid this one unless both sides finally back down a little.

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