BA's cost cuts are rejected by workers

BRITAIN edged closer towards a summer of holiday disruption yesterday, as 2,000 cabin crew and ground staff rejected cost cutting plans put to them by British Airways (BA).<br /><br />The flag carrier is striving to cut costs after it reported a record loss of &pound;401m earlier this year.<br /><br />BA had set a 30 June deadline to agree a deal on around 3,500 job cuts, a pay freeze and contract changes, but talks fell apart when a way forward could not be found.<br /><br />The airline and unions will re-enter discussions, to be chaired by conciliation service Acas, tomorrow.<br /><br />As the Unite union met with staff ahead of tomorrow&rsquo;s meeting, they said they would not accept an &ldquo;assault&rdquo; on worker&rsquo;s pay, terms or conditions, but would consider a two-year pay freeze, which could save the company around &pound;50m.<br /><br />Staff voted to reject BA&rsquo;s plans, which also included a new staff &ldquo;starter-rate&rdquo; of &pound;11,000, and to move forward with the union&rsquo;s suggestions.<br /><br />Last month, BA said that 800 staff at the airline had agreed to work for free for up to for up to four weeks, while a further 6,200 volunteered either to take unpaid leave or switch from full-time to part-time shifts.<br /><br />The unpaid work is still set to go ahead, but Unite complained yesterday that &ldquo;pressure was mounted on colleagues to agree to the unpaid shifts,&rdquo; and said they would raise the matter in tomorrow&rsquo;s meeting.<br /><br />&ldquo;We believe BA is going through the motions with Acas,&rdquo; the union said. &ldquo;They are also looking to resurrect the contracts which led to a breakdown a few years ago.&rdquo;