Unite to give BA staff cash

THE UNITE union has pledged to raise £700,000 to pay striking British Airways (BA) cabin crew, in a move designed to show it has the stomach for more walkouts.

It will impose a two per cent levy on each of the local Unite branches in the next quarter, and will use the cash to pay striking staff, who get their salaries docked if they walk out.

The proposal was agreed by Unite’s general executive yesterday as cabin crew entered their sixth day of industrial action.

“This is an unprecedented move and it shows that Unite is absolutely determined to give our members the support they deserve,” said Tony Woodley, Unite’s joint general secretary.

News of the levy came as BA said its earning expectations for 2010 “remain unchanged” despite already taking a £11m hit due to industrial action over the weekend, on top of a £21m hit last weekend.

Unite has said it is prepared to call a third strike period if no agreement is reached.
Meanwhile, the country is set for further chaos after Network Rail maintenance and signal staff threatened to walk out for three days starting 6 April.

The RMT and Tessa unions met with the national rail operator yesterday at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in a bid to try to avert the strike.

A statement on Acas’ website said that talks are expected to resume today.

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said: “We will keep trying to help the unions and their members understand our offers to avoid strikes. But they must want to negotiate, and not just make empty gestures about talking.”