British Airways and Cabin Crew Make Deal

The 18-month long dispute between British Airways and its cabin crew is finally at rest. This comes after Unite the Union agreed to a deal with the carrier, along with nearly 2,000 British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) members. Now all 9,000 of the airline’s crew will be balloted for a final decision, though this is seen as just a formality.

During the dispute, cabin crew have held 22 days of strikes, which disrupted thousands of travelers and cost British Airways about £150 million. They were against changes to working practices that were put in place in November of 2009, and the dispute led to disciplinary action taken against striking staff. There were more strikes planned for next week, but this agreement has avoided that wave of chaos for passengers.

Under the settlement, travel concessions stripped from striking cabin crew will be fully returned after the ballot confirms the end of the dispute, while disciplinary cases will be settled by binding agreements. Plus, crew will get 4% and 3.5% pay raises for the next 2 years, which is subject to productivity.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey attributed the success of the deal to British Airways chief executive Keith Williams knowing that they wanted an honourable settlement. The union leader described the airline boss as a decent, honest and genuine man. Leaders of the union have always said that the row couldn’t be resolved through litigation, confrontation or intimidation, but only through talks, he added.

A British Airways spokesman said that they are pleased that the strike threat has been lifted and that the dispute can end. The new deal recognises that the changes to working practices put into effect by the airline are permanent, while changes have been agreed on to ensure this kind of dispute doesn’t happen again. The airline has a great future ahead, and everyone is ready to move on together, he added.