Last-minute talks between BA and the Unite union aimed at averting this month’s strikes have failed, with the first strike period due to commence tomorrow (March 20).
In a statement British Airways said that it was “very disappointed that, despite lengthy negotiations, Unite has rejected the chance of a settlement and resolved that its strikes should go ahead”.
The carrier added that it was confident its cabin crew would accept its latest offer “if Unite put it to them”.
“In recent days, we have shown considerable flexibility in the interests of protecting customers from the effects of this completely unjustified industrial action.
“We have put forward proposals that would secure long-term pay protection for all existing crew, new opportunities for crew at Gatwick and modernisation of our industrial relations framework.
“Despite the recognition by the High Court that our changes to onboard crew numbers were valid and reasonable, we have also been prepared to make some modification to these changes to allow Unite to call off the strikes.
“It is a great pity that Unite continues to show such disregard for the interests of our customers and our business – and for public opinion at large.
“We will continue to strengthen our contingency plans to ensure that as many customers as possible can fly to their destinations during the strike period.
“We know that many cabin crew will work normally in the days ahead, and we look forward to their contribution – and that of tens of thousands of colleagues across the airline – as we keep our customers and our aircraft flying.”
For its part Unite says that BA “must listen”, and added that the carrier “has imposed changes, is refusing to negotiate openly and fairly and is intimidating its workforce”. In a statement the union said:
“Cabin crew will walk out just after midnight (0001 hours, March 20) after BA failed to table acceptable proposals on the issues of job cuts and crews’ fears that management is driving down standards at the airline.
“Unite will hold a rally in support of the thousands of brave men and women who are showing the courage to stand up to British Airways by taking strike action.
“These Unite members understand the pressures the recession places on the company. But they believe BA’s future and 40,000 jobs, depend on it staying a premier airline. For over one year crew have tried to negotiate. They’ve even offered to help save the service by making sacrifices – up to £62 million in savings. But BA under the management of Willie Walsh won’t listen.”
A three-day strike is due to commence tomorrow (Saturday March 20), followed by a four-day strike beginning on March 27.
BA says that it will fly 65 percent of passengers during the strike period, with all long-haul flights and over half of short-haul flights operating from Gatwick, and 60 percent of long-haul and 30 percent of short-haul services operating at Heathrow. Services from London City are unaffected by the strike.
For more information visit ba.com.
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