Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, has abandoned plans to ballot its British Airways cabin crew members over a settlement deal following fierce opposition from its constituent British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA).
Last month, Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley described the offer from BA chairman Willie Walsh as the "best" that could be achieved in the current climate.
Yesterday, however, he said it made no sense to offer the deal to members "over the heads of unwilling representatives". He added: "I have suspended the ballot on the offer and will meet with all of our cabin crew representatives as a matter of urgency to consider the next steps."
The terms of the settlement remain shrouded in secrecy, but are understood to include a commitment by Walsh to allow Acas to mediate in the cases of 16 cabin crew members dismissed for their involvement in strike action, and a promise from Unite of no industrial action for a certain period of time in exchange for the restoration of employee travel concessions.
A Bassa official said: "There are some good parts within the offer, in particular the acceptance of binding independent Acas arbitration, but there are many other clauses which we simply, as a trade union, cannot recommend.
"While all those disciplined on dispute related incidences are at the forefront of our concerns, especially those who have been dismissed, we simply cannot be held to ransom."
A spokesperson for BA's board of directors said they were disappointed at the move. "We believe that British Airways cabin crew deserve the opportunity to vote on these proposals, which address all their concerns and represent a fair resolution of this dispute. The way forward is for all sections of Unite to put aside their internal divisions and allow crew to have a direct say on their own future."
- British Airways dispute continues as cabin crew ballot suspended (Guardian)
- British Airways cabin crew to vote on new settlement offer (The Solicitor)
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