Following “exploratory talks” between Unite and British Airways (BA), the deadline for a strike announcement has been delayed until May 13.
A decision on any strike action was due today, but BA has agreed to extend this by 28 days. According to a joint statement from BA and the union – itself an unusual occurrence – talks over the past few weeks have seen “optimism” on both sides.
The new general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, and the new CEO of BA, Keith Williams are committed to “seeking an honourable and fair settlement to the long running dispute”, the statement said.
Both parties accept that a strike announcement at this stage would “severely undermine” any attempt at a genuine settlement.
The statement continued: “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 that the management and acceptance of change is the key to lasting peace.”
There are fears, however, that the legalities of the agreement could be blurred – legally any strike must be taken within 28 days of a ballot closing – leaving Unite open to a legal challenge if it does later decide to call on staff to take part in a walk-out.
The move to delay any strike decision means there will be no walkout by BA staff during the Easter, Royal wedding or first May bank holiday periods.
Report by Sara Turner