Unite urges British Airways to return to table

The Unite union has urged British Airways to return to the negotiating table, with the express aim of avoiding strike action scheduled for next week.

Last week the union – which represents 12,000 cabin crew at the British flag-carrier – announced it would begin industrial action later this month.

Staff are expected to down tools for three days from March 23rd, with a four day strike planned from March 27th.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning Unite Joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, said “What we need to do is put the offer on the table, let’s get 100 per cent of these flights flying and get serious negotiations off the ground again and I make that offer publicly.”

Following the strike announcement, British Airways withdrew a formal offer to unions. However, Mr Woodley said it had not been made clear BA’s offer would be withdrawn if the union followed through on its threat to strike.


“If I had had an inkling that was the case then certainly my thoughts wouldn’t have resulted and ended up where we are today,” he said.

“Put the offer back on the table that we had last week and then we can postpone the dispute and get into real serious talks to solve this very difficult problem once and for all.”

British Airways

Announcing contingency plans yesterday, the airline confirmed it was “still available to hold further talks” with unions in order to advert strikes.

British Airways confirmed it will offer around 60 per cent of its usual schedule during the first strike period – flying around 45,000 passengers on each of the three days.

However, this will leave around 30,000 passengers seeking alternative arrangements.

Aided by cabin crew recruits, staff crossing picket lines and a host of chartered jets, British Airways hopes to operate all services from London City Airport, and the majority of long-haul services from London Gatwick and London Heathrow.

Short-haul journeys – both within the UK and to European destinations – are likely to be the hardest hit.

Yesterday prime minister Gordon Brown branded the strike “unjustified” and “deplorable”, suggesting the action was coming at “the wrong time”.

However, the Conservative party have been quick to point out Unite are the main financial backers of the Labour party, and action of this nature could harm the party’s image in the run up to a general election.