The Unite and GMB trade unions have reached an agreement in principle with British Airways, potentially ending a long-running dispute with ground crew at the airline.
Staffing arrangements at London Heathrow Airport have been under review as the British flag-carrier seeks to cut costs, with the unions recommending to members they accept the latest offer.
Negotiations have been ongoing since January 2009.
The deal will see overall employment levels fall by 500 – including some 200 have already left. All those who leave will do so by voluntary means, following “reasonably enhanced” severance arrangements and with provisions for redeployment.
In return BA has secured a one year pay freeze to October 2010.
Combined the unions represent some 3,000 staff employed in the terminals by Heathrow Passenger Services.
A ballot will commence on August 16th, closing four weeks later on September 13th.
GMB National Officer for members in civil aviation, Mick Rix, said: “This new deal, if accepted by our members, will bring to an end a period of uncertainty and speculation regarding the security of employment of members at BA at Heathrow.
“It has been a long hard slog but in the end the negotiations have proved successful and we are recommending the outcome to our members who will now vote on the deal.”
The deal also covers agreements on new employment and staffing levels, new arrangements for meal and other breaks, new arrangements on flexibility, and agreements on ongoing procedures to deal with further changes that may become necessary over the coming period, added GMB.
A BA statement said: “We have reached a positive conclusion to our discussions with our airport customer services trade unions on a joint proposal that offers us a more flexible, cost efficient and customer-focused ground operation at Heathrow.
However, the airline is still in dispute with the Unite union – which represents 12,000 cabin crew at the airline – over changes to working conditions.
The dispute has seen staff walk out for 22 days in 2010 so far.