Talks to avert BA strike resume

Talks will resume today to try to head off a 12-day strike by British Airways (BA) cabin crew, as both sides wait to hear if the UK High Court will grant an injunction blocking the walkout.

Mrs Justice Cox is expected to decide today whether to grant BA’s application for a block on crippling Christmas strikes by thousands of cabin crew.

The airline is challenging Unite’s ballot of its 12,500 cabin crew members, claiming some workers who had left the company took part in the voting.

Talks aimed at averting the strike began yesterday after a war of words erupted between BA and union leaders.

BA said it offered to meet the union “without preconditions”, but made clear it could not “undo” changes already implemented, including a reduction in crew on long-haul flights.

Unite’s joint leader Tony Woodley called on BA to suspend the “imposition” of the changes, saying that would lead to the strike being called off.

“We don’t want a dispute and neither do our members, but we are not prepared to see major changes to terms and conditions imposed on our members,” he said.

A BA spokesman said changes to crew numbers had already been made and followed requests for 1,000 voluntary redundancies and 3,000 workers wanting to switch to part-time contracts.

“Those posts have gone out of the business – the union knows that. We cannot undo the changes. The union is arguing that the changes are contractual and we say they are not. This will be tested in a court case in February, so why is the union having a strike over Christmas?”

Thousands of cabin crew are due to strike for 12 days from next Tuesday to January 2, threatening travel misery for a million passengers at a cost of tens of millions of pounds to the airline.

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