Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley yesterday said the union has ‘postponed’ Tuesday’s ballot for further strike action at British Airways to consider a new offer made by BA during negotiations on Friday.
Tuesday’s ballot would have put to a vote further industrial action for 12 weeks, starting from 3rd August and lasting until 25th October.
BA said that the latest offer, made through ACAS mediation talks, would ‘guarantee’ two years of rises in basic salary from February 2011 and that existing crew members would receive a minimum amount of ‘in route’ allowances.
BA asserted that changes would be made in pay structures that address cabin crew concerns.
New cabin crew members recruited in the autumn, however, would not have the same guarantees in their contracts.
Woodley said: ‘As a consequence of the company’s last and final offer the union and its representatives will have no choice but to delay our vote in order to allow our members to consult on the offer.’
He warned that failure to restore staff travel arrangements for cabin crew ‘prevents this offer from BA being the breakthrough everyone seeks’.
But he claimed that ‘it would be suicidal, indeed inexplicable, if we didn’t put this offer to our members at this stage.
‘I’ve got no doubt they will take that decision and that will give us a chance to reflect.’
But sacked cabin crew representative, Bassa branch secretary Duncan Holley, said his members would not rush into any deal with BA.
He warned: ‘British Airways has used the word “guarantee” before and they’ve not delivered.
‘We’ve got to be really careful that when BA say the word “guarantee” they mean it.
‘You can’t have 5,000 people punished for taking industrial action.’
Nevertheless, BA said in a statement: ‘We welcome this statement from the Unite leadership.
‘We believe our offer is fair and reasonable and provides a genuine opportunity to end this dispute.’
Business Secretary Vince Cable also welcomed Unite’s move, saying that it was ‘very good news’ and ‘long overdue’.