Union predicts "long road"
Talks between BA and two trade unions began today (July 8) at the offices of the UK arbitration service ACAS over the airline's demand for redundancies, a pay freeze and changes in working conditions.
A spokeswoman for Unite, the largest union at the carrier with 28,000 members, said she expected it to be a "long road" but added "the main thing is that we are back around the table."
The talks broke down after BA, Unite and the second union GMB, which has 7,000 members at the airline, failed to agree on the BA package by the airline's deadline of June 30.
The failure left the threat of a strike hanging over the airline as the holiday season got under way.
A meeting of about 2,000 Unite members on Monday (July 6) "overwhelmingly" rejected the BA package and backed its union's own plan which it said would save the troubled airline £130m a year.
BA, whose ceo Willie Walsh says it is fighting for survival, wants 3,700 redundancies from its 40,000 workforce with the rest accepting a two year pay freeze and a change in working conditions.
The unions have accused the airline which posted a £401m pre-tax loss fro last year, of asking for too much.
BA has said little since the talks broke down other than that it had called on ACAS to intervene.
During its current crisis the airline which has been hit by a drop in demand and a rise in fuel prices, has also asked staff to accept pay cuts or work for nothing for a month.
BA has already reached agreement with Balpa, the pilots' union over a pay cut which will save it £26m a year.
The union, which has 95% membership among BA's 3,200 pilots, has recommended they support the deal. The pilots are currently voting on it and the result should be known at the end of this week.
Under the agreement, the pilots will take a 2.61% pay cut and a 20% reduction in their flying time allowance.
This part of the deal will save BA £16m a year.
The second part of the deal will increase pilots' annual duty hours, bring in a shorter turn around time on short haul flights and cut crew on some long haul flights. This will save £10m a year.
In return the pilots will, from June 2011, receive BA shares worth £13m if set company targets are reached.
The pilots will not be able to sell their shares for three years.
The package also allows for 78 voluntary redundancies.
BA said last week that 6,940 staff - 17% of its 40,000 workforce - had agreed to take pay cuts, work for nothing or take unpaid leave for a month.
About 800 said they would work for nothing. The majority have opted for unpaid leave.
Mr Walsh said it would help achieve as much as £10m in savings.
Mr Walsh and his chief financial officer Keith Williams have both said they will work for nothing in July. In Mr Walsh's case this will mean forgoing £61,000.
www.ba.com www.unitetheunion.com www.gmb.org.uk www.acas.org.uk