Union leaders have called for British Airways cabin crew to hold off from strikes over the Easter and Royal Wedding holidays, raising hopes of a final settlement in the long-running dispute.
Members of Unite voted last month to stage fresh industry action, which threatened to cause chaos over what is one of the busiest periods in the aviation calendar.
Unite leader, Len McCluskey, and BA chief executive, Keith Williams, have met in recent weeks to negotiate a deal. The row has so far led to 22 days of strikes over the past year, and cost BA around £150 million.
But in a joint statement the two sides said that a 28-day extension had been agreed to allow for further talks, and that lasting peace was essential for the good of both parties.
“To achieve such a peace, it is understood by British Airways that cabin crew must feel that their concerns are being fairly dealt with, and it is recognised by the Union that the management and acceptance of change is the key to lasting peace.
“British Airways and the union have embarked already on a process of cooperation building, assisted by a highly-regarded external company. It is hoped that this continuing process will help develop and strengthen trust.
“The current strike ballot mandate given by cabin crew means industrial action must be announced by April 15. Both Parties accept that this would severely undermine any attempt at a genuine settlement.”
“Accordingly, British Airways is prepared to grant an extension of 28 days to the Union. A variety of meetings will now take place in the belief that the optimism of recent weeks can be turned into a reality that will allow British Airways to focus on delivering the high-quality service our customers expect and to take all its staff confidently into the future.”
The row started over cost-cutting plans but spread to the removal of travel concessions to crew who went on strike, as well as disciplinary action taken against a number of Unite members.