Woodley calls off cabin crew strike action

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TGWU leader TONY WOODLEY was picketed by locked-out Gate Gourmet workers on May 1st
TGWU leader TONY WOODLEY was picketed by locked-out Gate Gourmet workers on May 1st

At the last minute yesterday afternoon, the Transport and General Workers Union called off today’s 48-hour strike by British Airways cabin crew.

The TGWU announced that the three-day strikes planned for February were also called off.

TGWU general secretary, Tony Woodley, held a joint press briefing at 3pm with BA chief executive Walsh outside the Marriot Hotel in Kensington, west London.

Walsh led off, saying: ‘We are pleased that our negotiations with the T&G have resulted in an agreement that removes the threat of strikes.

‘We have always said that our cabin crew do an excellent job and we believe this agreement lays a firm foundation to enable us to provide even higher standards of onboard service for customers in the future, and I have to say I’m really pleased.’

He added: ‘Unfortunately, the decision has come too late to prevent disruption to the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers tomorrow and Wednesday.’

TGWU leader Woodley said: ‘This has been a very difficult set of negotiations.

‘We’ve had to try and solve a multitude of problems that have built up over a long period of time, here.’

He said that ‘uncertainties’ with some of the absence control procedures in the company had been ‘laid to rest’, that the agreement reached on pay ‘should lead to the end of a two-tier wage structure’ and ‘we reached an agreement also on pensions and indeed on pay that is more than a help here’.

He said: ‘The most important thing is that cabin crew have regained the respect that they are entitled to have.’

BA announced that all long-haul flights would be reinstated today. BA share prices rose 3.18 per cent on the news the strikes were off to 544.25 pence.

No details were given at the press briefing but it emerged later that a pay deal of 4.6 per cent over two years has been agreed.

• Second news story

SINCLAR SHUTS DOWN WITH A MINUTE’S NOTICE

Scottish manufacturing company, the Simclar Group, yesterday announced the closure of two factories with immediate effect, with the loss of 420 jobs.

The electronics components manufacturer shocked and angered workers by closing its sites in Irvine and Kilwinning.

Workers were told of the closure at a morning meeting with management.

In a statement, the Scottish firm said it had been unable to remain competitive due to ‘relentless pressure’ from low cost economies and falling orders.

A Simclar spokesman said: ‘The current market conditions have made the continued operation of Simclar (Ayrshire) impossible.

‘Simclar has made every attempt to restructure and save the business but it would not be in the best interests of the group as a whole to continue to do so in the long-term.’

The company also blamed uncertainty in the manufacturing sector.

The group said its site in Dunfermline, Fife, where 300 workers are employed, would continue to operate.

Simclar (Ayrshire) will now be placed in administration.

The Simclar Group is one of Scotland’s largest family-owned manufacturing concerns and has operations in Dunfermline in Fife and Kilwinning in North Ayrshire, as well as in Mexico, China and the United States, with a worldwide workforce of about 2,200.

Irene Oldfather, MSP for Cunninghame South, said: ‘This is very bad news for the local economy. It is a human tragedy for the families involved.’