British Airways and cabin crew union agree to restart negotiations

BRITISH Airways said it would resume talks with the union of striking cabin crew later yesterday in an attempt to avert further industrial action.

Cabin attendants are in the third day of a five-day strike, protesting over staffing levels and cuts to benefits. The stoppage follows seven days of walkouts in March.

Previous negotiations in the long-running dispute have been acrimonious. The last round of talks ended in chaos over the weekend when left-wing protesters stormed the negotiations.

“I really hope we can pick up the momentum of the talks from where we were on Saturday before we were invaded,” Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite union, said.

Unite, which represents the bulk of the airline’s cabin crew, has threatened another 10 days of strikes if the dispute is not resolved.

However, BA said it was upping the number of flights it plans to run during the next wave of strikes, from 30 May to 3 June, after more staff than expected decided to work during this week’s industrial action.

The airline said its Heathrow longhaul schedule would be increased to more than 70 per cent of flights, from 60 per cent this week, while the shorthaul schedule would rise to 55 per cent of flights, from 50 per cent.

Woodley repeated his offer to postpone the strikes if travel allowances for cabin crew, a major sticking point in the conflict, are reinstated.