BA SHUT DOWN! – Walsh rejects T&G goodwill gesture

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‘We don’t want macho management or macho trade unionism, we want an honourable compromise,’ said Transport and General Workers Union general secretary Tony Woodley yesterday.

He was speaking after British Airways advised passengers to make alternative travel arrangements ahead of next Tuesday’s two-day strike by cabin crew.

This came after the TGWU called off a planned strike next Monday to allow for further talks.

But days of talks since last week’s 96 per cent vote for a series of three-day strikes broke down in the early hours yesterday.

Asked if there will be further industrial action if the dispute is not resolved, Woodley added yesterday: ‘I sincerely hope not.

‘We’re a responsible trade union, our people are very responsible employees, here.

‘At the end of the day all disputes have to come to a conclusion.’

BA said that no flights would leave Heathrow on Tuesday, 30 January and Wednesday, 31 January. All domestic and European BA flights to and from Gatwick will also be halted.

Passengers can either change their flights to another date, at no extra charge, or else gain a full refund.

Woodley said in a statement earlier: ‘British Airways is perfectly capable of resolving the dispute with cabin crew without it going to strike action if they would but see it.

‘Like BA customers and our own cabin crew members I find it beyond belief that this company has got itself into such a damaging situation.

‘Let us be very clear that in cabin crew these are not industrial militants. They are a sizeable group of professional and responsible women and men who have lost trust in their company’s management and that is abundantly evident from that ballot result.’

Woodley said there really should be no reason for the company to take the stance they have and accused BA of putting ‘procedures before progress and passengers’.

The TGWU said Woodley, ‘who has been kept in touch with the talks and has had several conversations with BA chief executive Willie Walsh, confirmed that he was now intervening directly’.

Jack Dromey, TGWU deputy general secretary, said that after over one hundred hours of talks and the postponement of the first day of the strike BA had squandered the opportunity it had been given.

He stressed that in spite of BA’s attitude, the TGWU’s ‘door remains open’ in order to get a negotiated settlement.

Dromey said: ‘This is a sad day for passengers and cabin crew alike.

‘We are dismayed and saddened that BA failed to grasp this genuine opportunity, squandering a sincere gesture of goodwill. The company has failed to hear the voice of common sense.’

• The GMB trade union has written to Willie Walsh seeking an urgent meeting in an attempt to resolve the BA Pensions dispute and avoid strike action in the dispute.

GMB is currently balloting its members over the latest offer from BA and industrial action.

Ed Blissett, GMB National Negotiator in talks with BA said: ‘GMB is deeply concerned that BA management has misrepresented the GMB’s position with regard to the progress of the pension talks alleging that GMB would recommend the latest offer to the members.

‘This was not ever the GMB’s position and BA knew that all along. There is now a lack of trust between BA management and GMB.’