The start of a planned strike by thousands of British Airways cabin crew has been delayed by 24 hours to allow more time for peace talks, it was announced today.
The Transport and General Workers Union said the three-day walkout due to start on Monday will now begin on Tuesday and last only two days if the row is not resolved.
General secretary Tony Woodley said the move was a “goodwill gesture” aimed at securing an agreement on sickness absence, pay and staffing.
BA welcomed the news as a “small step forward” but added that the strike threat should now be removed altogether.
Mr Woodley said: "After the personal intervention of Willie Walsh (BA's chief executive) with our senior representatives, and as a goodwill gesture, we have agreed to a 24-hour postponement of the start of the industrial action.
“This extends the time available to secure a settlement and I hope that the company will now join us in making every effort to do so.”
Mr Walsh said the fact the T&G had amended its original strike plan showed that enough progress had been made in negotiations for the whole strike threat to be removed.
“The T&G has taken a small step forward, but it should now take a proper stride and end the anxiety it is causing for so many of our customers.
“We have made progress in our negotiations and we do not need the shadow of strike action hanging over us as we seek to make further progress.
“The solution to this dispute can, and should, be found at the negotiating table and not on the picket lines. We remain committed to the pursuit of a negotiated settlement.
“While the T&G has moved its position, I regret that the union has not supported our initiative to seek the assistance of the Acas conciliation service.
“I welcome the decision of the T&G’s general secretary, Tony Woodley, to put his weight behind efforts to resolve this dispute.”
Today’s development followed five hours of talks last night between Mr Walsh and senior shop stewards from the union’s cabin crew branch.
Strikes are still scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by 72-hour walkouts beginning on Monday February 5 and Monday February 12.
Mr Walsh said: “If the T&G does not call off the rest of its strikes for next week, we will announce tomorrow details of our flight programme for the strike days.”