Tug of war between BA and union

British Airways and the Unite union
have opened and closed a new round of talks to try to prevent further strike
action, and will meet again next week.

Talks were held under the
supervision of mediation service Acas but adjourned without agreement.

The union has threatened to ballot
for further strikes starting in September.

Although members of the Unite union
rejected the airline’s “final” pay offer last month, BA has said this
would still form the basis of any deal.

But Unite’s joint leader Derek
Simpson has said there is no sense in the airline “maintaining this
dispute”.

The talks were the first time the
two sides had been involved in formal negotiations since Unite members rejected
BA’s offer of a 2.9 per cent pay rise next year with 3 per cent the year after.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh has
said BA is continuing with contingency plans to deal with any additional
walkouts, and that the airline was confident of running all long-haul flights
on strike days.

“We continue to train
volunteer cabin crew and that programme is going very well,” he said.

“I want to reach a resolution
but we are preparing for further industrial action.”

But Mr Simpson has said questions
must continue to be asked “about the direction of BA’s management”.

“It is never our intention to
see BA struggle,” he added.

“We would far prefer to see it
thrive and the way to ensure this is to settle peacefully with cabin
crew.”

So far the Unite members have held
22 days of strike action since March.

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