British Airways and cabin crew union Unite have agreed a 28-day extension to the deadline by which the union must announce any further industrial action, removing the threat of strikes over the Easter and Royal Wedding bank holidays.
Unite and BA announced the interim agreement today ahead of the strike-notice deadline at the end of this week.
In a statement, Unite said there had been exploratory talks between general secretary Len McCluskey and BA chief executive Keith Williams and both were “committed to seeking an honourable and fair settlement to the long-running dispute”.
“Both men accept a lasting peace is essential for the well-being of all cabin crew and for the benefit of British Airways’ customers,” it said.
“It is understood by BA that cabin crew must feel their concerns are being fairly dealt with and it is recognised by the union . . . that acceptance of change is the key to lasting peace.”
The union said a settlement would require the restoration of staff travel rights, an independent review of disciplinary action and “measures to address concerns on earnings and lifestyle associated with changes in onboard crew numbers and the introduction of Mixed Fleet” crew.
BA is recruiting new cabin crew on different terms and conditions to existing Heathrow-based staff, designating the new workforce as Mixed Fleet because they work across short and long-haul services.
The pair agreed the pressure on Unite to call industrial action by the end of this week “would severely undermine any attempt at a genuine settlement”.
However, the legal status of the agreement is unclear. The requirement to take action within 28 days of a ballot closing and to give seven days notice of any action are legally binding. Unite could be open to a legal challenge if it subsequently called action without another ballot.