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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Boeing reaches deal with strikers
A striking Boeing worker
Boeing is fighting European rival Airbus to be top plane producer
US aircraft giant Boeing has reached agreement with striking workers after pledging to lift pension payments and cut plans to limit healthcare cover.

Almost 20,000 Boeing machinists at plants in Kansas, Oregon and Washington state downed tools at the start of this month, delaying plane deliveries.

Analysts estimated that a month long strike could have cost Boeing more than $2bn (1.1bn).

Union representatives said workers will vote on the deal on Thursday.

"I'm just proud of our membership," said workers' representative Mark Blondin, district president for Machinists District Lodge 751 in Seattle.

"They stood solid, unified, and that solidarity is what finally got the company to do the right thing."

Better offer

The deal is reasonable and was reached after both sides made compromises, said Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers.

The three-year deal was reached after Boeing pledged not to make changes to its healthcare programme, despite rising costs, trade union official Mr Blondin told the Associated Press news agency.

It also agreed to keep offering medical benefits to retired workers.

Boeing had been looking to gain higher contributions from its workers.

The company will pay more in pensions to union members, increasing the monthly payout to $70 per month for every year worked, up from $60.

Boeing had previously offered $66.

Workers who sign up for the deal will receive an 8% bonus in the first year, plus $3,000 in each of the next two years.

Boeing also agreed to offer the same terms to all workers, dropping plans to give less money to those they reckoned had a cheaper cost of living.

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