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British Airways, Unions Fail to Reach Agreement

July 24, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox


Negotiations between British Airways and the unions Unite and GMB have ended without resolution, sparking fears of strike action. The failure to reach an agreement over the airline’s plans to cut up to 3,700 jobs and freeze pay now means the two sides must abide by a 14-day “cooling-off” period during which they will not enter into further external communication.

Both unions have already agreed to a pay freeze and unpaid leave, but BA is seeking further measures including job cuts and radical changes to terms and conditions.

BA has issued a statement saying: “Unite has today registered a failure to agree in the cabin crew talks. A failure to agree involves a 14-day cooling off period during which time there will be no external communications. This period is for both sides to reflect on where they are and explore ways of resolving matters.”

The unions have yet to comment on the breakdown of talks but officials are known to have grown frustrated at the lack of progress, with Unite having already proposing cost-saving measure including cabin crew agreeing to a pay cut. The pilots union Balpa has agreed to accept a pay cut in return for shares.

It is understood a similar “failure to agree” will be registered tomorrow on behalf of other BA workers, including baggage handlers and check-in staff.

Cabin crew had offered to take a 2.6 percent pay cut and a salary freeze until February 2011 to help the airline fight off record losses, which slumped to a $658 million last year, its heaviest since 1982.

A deadline for agreeing about 3,700 job cuts and a two-year pay freeze as well as changes to conditions passed without a deal on June 30.

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