Strike threat still looms over carrier
BA ceo Willie Walsh today (October 19) met unions leaders as a strike threat hung over the airline over its plans for cabin crew redundancies.
Mr Walsh had what the airline described as "open and frank" talks with Derek Simpson, joint general secretary, and Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary, of Unite which has 28,000 members at BA.
The airline said Mr Walsh had subsequently written to Mr Simpson and was awaiting a reply.
There was no indication from either side how long the talks lasted or what was the substance.
The union warned last week of a strike if the meeting made no progress.
It said a ballot on strike action would then be "inevitable"
The Walsh-Simpson talks come 12 days after BA announced plans to make the equivalent of 1,700 staff redundant.
The decision on redundancies came after months of talks with Unite and a second union, the GMB which has 7,000 members at the airline, made "little progress."
The talks had included a cooling off period, senior level talks between Mr Walsh, Mr Simpson and his fellow joint secretary Tony Woodley, and sessions with the UK arbitration service ACAS.
In its statement announcing the redundancies, BA said 1,000 of its cabin crew wished to leave.
A further 3,000 wanted to switch to part time working. This was the equivalent of shedding 1,700 full time jobs.
To accommodate this loss of staff, the airline said it planned to make changes in working practices.
It said it had "consulted" on these changes and would not be "altering anything that requires negotiations".
BA said the changes would come in by the end of next month.
There would be no changes in workers' contracts and no cut in the number of staff aboard planes.
BA said: "We have extremely professional cabin crew.
"However, we cannot ignore the fact that our Heathrow-based cabin crew costs are much higher than those of our Gatwick-based crew and of our competitors.
"Without changes, we will lose more money with every month that passes.
"It is essential we make ourselves more efficient if we are to ensure our long-term survival."
BA, which announced a £401m pre-tax loss for the year ending March 31, said the aviation industry was facing the worst downturn in its history.
It said in the statement that it was "currently not profitable and we expect to record a significant loss for the second consecutive year - the first time that has happened in our history".
www.ba.com www.unitetheunion.com www.gmb.org.uk www.acas.org.uk