According to the Guardian, British Airways and trade union officials have set a deadline of 5 p.m. on Tuesday to avert a cabin crew strike, as the Unite union considers tabling a compromise deal, including a two-year pay freeze for flight attendants.
Unite's chief negotiator, assistant general secretary Len McCluskey, is considering a range of options as negotiators prepare a final offer to BA that could be tabled on Monday. According to sources close to the talks, Unite's options include:
* A two-year pay freeze
* A partial repeal of staffing reductions on flights
* An agreement to create a "new fleet" consisting of new, lower-paid recruits on separate planes.
If the talks fail, Unite must provide seven days' notice of strike action to BA, which means it can strike from March 16 at the earliest. It must stage a walkout by March 22. But representatives at Unite's cabin crew branch, Bassa, have already started discussions on strike dates, and walkouts could be announced soon after the 5pm deadline if no agreement is reached.
BA has demanded proposals from Unite that save at least $90.8 million per year on cabin crew costs, and officials from the union have been drafting these over the past few days. BA estimates that it will reach its savings target after it unilaterally cut crew levels from 15 to 14 on long-haul flights in November—a move that led to cabin crew voting for strike action last month.
Unite is considering requesting a compromise that would see the 15th person put back on board on some of the busiest flights, with lower crew complements retained on the remaining services.