'Catastrophic breakdown' in BA strike talks

British Airways suffered its biggest post-privatisation losses in the last 12 months
British Airways suffered its biggest post-privatisation losses in the last 12 months

By politics.co.uk staff

British Airways (BA) passengers face unavoidable disruption after the Unite union ruled out further talks before tomorrow's strikes begin.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley was quoted as saying there had been a "catastrophic breakdown" in relations between the negotiating teams as the first strike approached.

Yesterday's talks broke down early after around 200 protestors from the Socialist Workers' party disrupted talks between the airline and union negotiators.

Chief executive Willie Walsh was forced to call security on his mobile phone after the protestors entered the meeting at the Acas conciliation service headquarters yesterday evening. Mr Tony Woodley told them to "shut up" but they refused to move.

It had been thought union leaders were debating among themselves whether they had wrung sufficient concessions from BA's management to take back a deal to their staff.

But an argument over a senior union figure within the talks publishing details of the private discussions on the social networking website Twitter appears to have comprehensively undermined the process.

The dispute between BA and Unite has dragged on for months, with issues of pay and working conditions on the negotiating table, but the main talking point is now thought to be the issue of travel concessions being revoked from BA staff who went on strike in March.

BA's cabin crew staff which are members of the Unite union will strike for five days on Monday. Further industrial action is planned for May 30th and June 5th.

Last week the struggling airline announced a pre-tax loss of £531 million ($766 million), the airline's biggest loss since it was privatised in 1987.


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