Sunday, January 28, 2007


Thousands of passengers will be hit by the strike. Talks between British Airways and the Transport & General Workers Union (T&G) aimed at averting a strike by cabin crew have resumed, the airline says.
Both sides want to reach an agreement to avoid a 48-hour walkout on Tuesday 30 January and Wednesday 31 January.
The dispute is over sickness absence, pay and staffing at the airline.
BA has already cancelled all flights out of Heathrow and domestic and European flights out of Gatwick for the strike's duration.
The BBC has learned that the talks - being personally led by BA chief execuitve Willie Walsh - are being held in secret to avoid undue pressure on the negotiators.
'Day and night'
Earlier, BA had sent an e-mail to customers to say that the strikes were going ahead.
In its message BA said that it "was committed to finding a resolution" to the proposed strike.
It had been reported in the Mail On Sunday that the company was paying cash 'sweeteners' to tempt staff to break any potential strike, but BA says any money is simply expenses to cover taxi journeys made by non union staff who will work during the strike and want to avoid picket lines.
"We are working day and night to try to come to an agreement with the T&G that will stop any further planned strikes from taking place," it added.
Unless a solution to the dispute is found a second three-day strike is possible for 5 to 7 February, and a third three-day strike possible for 12 to 14 February.
Sick leave row
If the strike goes ahead, all flights from Heathrow airport will be cancelled, as well as all domestic and European BA-operated flights to and from Gatwick.

HEATHROW No flights out. Some long-haul arrivals
GATWICK No domestic or European flights. Up to six of the nine long-haul flights will operate
MANCHESTER Flights to New York will operate normally

British Airways strike Q&A

Each side has been arguing that the other is being unreasonable in the dispute over pay and sick leave.
BA has said it wants customers to have sufficient warning of its contingency plans for the strike days, to give them enough time to make alternative travel arrangements.
Passengers due to travel on one of the strike days can either change their flights to another date, at no extra charge, or else gain a full refund.
New rules
In all, 1,300 BA flights will be cancelled over the two days.
Out of the airline's 14,000 cabin crew, about 11,000 are members of the T&G - 96% of whom voted for strike action.
It is the travelling public that suffers from disruptions due to industrial actions such as these
Diana, Johannesburg.

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Profile: Willie Walsh

They have complained that a new regime on sickness pay, introduced 18 months ago, means they are forced to work when they are ill.
BA insists the measures were needed to cut high levels of sickness absence.
Staff now take an average of 12 days sick leave each year - down from 22 days before the new rules were brought in, the airline says.
Starter pay rates for crew members, overall pay grading and promotion opportunities are also subject to dispute, with the union unhappy that the starting wage for staff is £10,000.
The union also wants the introduction of a single pay arrangement for cabin crew staff, rather than the existing two tier system, with staff who joined after 1997 being paid less than those employed before that date.



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