Union postpones strike ballot after new BA offer
The main union involved in the British Airways strikes said Sunday it would defer a fresh ballot on industrial action planned for next week after the airline made an "interesting" new offer.
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite union, told Sky News television it would be "suicidal and indeed inexplicable" if members were not consulted on the offer put forward by BA on Friday.
The loss-making airline has already been hit by 22 days of strikes this year by cabin crew in a long-running and increasingly bitter dispute over pay and working conditions, and a Unite ballot on fresh action was due Tuesday.
"It would be suicidal and indeed inexplicable if we didn't put this latest offer to our members at this stage," Woodley said.
He said that after "some interesting movement" by the airline, "we will be undoubtedly postponing the ballot that was due to start on Tuesday so our members themselves can view this latest and final offer from British Airways".
BA says the new offer would ensure existing crew will not see their pay cut when new, less-well paid members are taken on, and it has also scrapped a plan to raise the number of crew on flights, paid for by cutting crew allowances.
However, Woodley added that the issue of the company's removal of travel perks from striking staff remained to be fully resolved and could still get in the way of a settlement.
In response to his comments, BA said: "We welcome this statement from the Unite leadership. We believe our offer is fair and reasonable and provides a genuine opportunity to end this dispute."
The decision on whether to defer the strike ballot has to be formally confirmed by union officials on Monday.
Since March, BA has suffered 22 days of strike action, costing the company 154 million pounds, according to Unite, Britain's biggest trade union.
© 2010 AFP