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Brown: BA strike can still be averted

GORDON Brown has said that a last-ditch agreement to avert a BA cabin crew strike is possible.

The Prime Minister told parliament that the planned walkout – starting this weekend – was avoidable.

He said: "What we need to do is to get the unions and the management to talk to each other.

"I have talked to both sides and I believe the agreement that was near to being reached last Thursday is one on which they can build for an agreement this week."

Meanwhile Unite union chiefs will meet with their US counterparts the Teamasters to discuss their planned BA strike this weekend.

The Teamsters, which has 1.4m members, will hold talks with Unite in Washington.

They said in a statement: "We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite who are fighting for a fair contract at British Airways."

Unite has called out BA cabin crew on a three-day strike from Saturday, with a four-day walkout planned for 27 March, over working patterns and pay.

BA has trained staff from other areas of the company to fill-in as cabin crew during the action and has pledged to keep as many services as possible operating.

The company said in a statement: "It is sad to see Unite seeking backing from trade unions overseas to support its unjustified strike against an iconic British brand."

Conservative transport spokeswoman Theresa Villiers branded the international summit "irresponsible".

She said in a statement: "Unite should not be striking at all and trying to spread the dispute to other countries is even more irresponsible."