Negotiations between British Airways and Unite union will conclude at 5pm today after eight weeks of talks at the TUC head office in London. The man charged with chairing the talks, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, has announced discussions will cease even if the parties fail to reach an agreement.
The announcement follows a flurry of activity from union officials at the end of last week in a last-ditch bid to avert a strike.
As reported last month, Unite's British Airways cabin crew members have voted 81% in favour of industrial action. But union leaders have refused to disclose any strike dates yet as they believe a negotiated settlement remains possible.
'Unite has offered a two-year pay freeze and accepted the recruitment of new attendants on different pay and conditions,' writes Dan Milmo. 'The Unite proposals also address the core of the dispute - unilateral staffing cuts on BA flights - by partially reinstating cabin crew numbers on some long-haul services.'
British Airways senior management examined the proposals over the weekend. Mr. Milmo says early indications are not promising: 'The proposal to accept new recruits on a separate fleet of aircraft, with a series of guarantees protecting current crew, has not been unconditionally accepted by BA because the airline believes it will not deliver immediate cost savings.'
Unite Assistant General Secretary Len McCluskey told Business Week chances of a strike are fifty-fifty. "It's a toss of a coin," he said. "We've said all along we would like to negotiate a settlement, and I remain positive about these things."
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