U.S. News

BA Seeks Arbitration in Cabin Crew Dispute


British Airways said on Monday it had asked conciliation service ACAS to help resolve a dispute with cabin crew, who are planning a three-day strike over new pension plans and working conditions.

Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) plan to walk out on Jan. 29-31 and are also considering two additional 72-hour strikes.

"We've spoken with ACAS and we've asked ACAS to get involved to assist in these talks, and I would hope the T&G will welcome that initiative," British Airways (BA) Chief Executive Willie Walsh told BBC Radio 4.

T&G Deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey said the union was open to talks, but the two sides needed to resolve some "immediate and very difficult issues" including "unfair sickness management procedures".

"In the next 48 to 72 hours, we need a settlement," Dromey told BBC Radio 4. "We will negotiate night and day in the best interests of the cabin crew, of BA, and BA's passengers."

Last week, the union said 96% of the cabin crew it represents had voted in favour of strike action over issues that include sick-leave policies and a new pension proposal from the airline.

BA, Europe's third-biggest airline, says it will make a one-time contribution of 800 million pounds ($1.6 billion) into its pension fund in return for changes to benefits as part of a plan to lower its 2.1 billion pound deficit to 900 million pounds.

T&G members include 10,500 cabin crew out of a total of about 14,000 at BA.

BA has said it will allow passengers booked to fly with it between Jan. 29 and Feb 16 to change the date of their trip.