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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 06:08 GMT
BA strike peace talks to resume
British Airways planes
Thousands of passengers will be hit by the strike
Last-ditch talks between British Airways and the Transport and General Workers Union aimed at avoiding a strike by cabin crew are due to resume.

Both sides want to reach an agreement to avoid a 48-hour walkout on Tuesday 30 January and Wednesday 31 January.

The dispute is over sickness absence, pay and staffing at the airline.

BA has already cancelled all flights out of Heathrow and domestic and European flights out of Gatwick for the duration of the strike.

The talks - being personally led by BA chief executive Willie Walsh - were adjourned on Sunday night, and will restart just hours before the proposed industrial action is due to start.

BA's Mr Walsh will be meeting with the T&G's general secretary, Tony Woodley, and senior members of both organisations will also be attending the talks.

'Day and night'

Earlier, BA had sent an e-mail to customers to say that the strikes were going ahead.

In its message BA said that it "was committed to finding a resolution" to the proposed strike.

It had been reported in the Mail on Sunday that the company was paying cash "sweeteners" to tempt staff to break any potential strike, but BA says any money is simply expenses to cover taxi journeys made by non-union staff who will work during the strike and want to avoid picket lines.

"We are working day and night to try to come to an agreement with the T&G that will stop any further planned strikes from taking place," it added.

Unless a solution to the dispute is found, a second three-day strike is possible for 5 to 7 February, and a third three-day strike possible for 12 to 14 February.

Sick leave row

If the strike goes ahead, all flights from Heathrow airport will be cancelled, as well as all domestic and European BA-operated flights to and from Gatwick.

BA STRIKE DISRUPTION
HEATHROW
No flights out
Some long-haul arrivals
GATWICK
No domestic or European flights
Up to six of the nine long-haul flights will operate
MANCHESTER
Flights to New York will operate normally
BA CONNECT AND OTHER FRANCHISED SERVICES
Not affected

Each side has been arguing that the other is being unreasonable in the dispute over pay and sick leave.

BA has said it wants customers to have sufficient warning of its contingency plans for the strike days, to give them enough time to make alternative travel arrangements.

Passengers due to travel on one of the strike days can either change their flights to another date, at no extra charge, or else gain a full refund.

New rules

In all, 1,300 BA flights will be cancelled over the two days.

Out of the airline's 14,000 cabin crew, about 11,000 are members of the T&G - 96% of whom voted for strike action.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It is the travelling public that suffers from disruptions due to industrial actions such as these
Diana, Johannesburg

They have complained that a new regime on sickness pay, introduced 18 months ago, means they are forced to work when they are ill.

BA insists the measures were needed to cut high levels of sickness absence.

Staff now take an average of 12 days sick leave each year - down from 22 days before the new rules were brought in, the airline says.

Starter pay rates for crew members, overall pay grading and promotion opportunities are also subject to dispute, with the union unhappy that the starting wage for staff is 10,000.

The union also wants the introduction of a single pay arrangement for cabin crew staff, rather than the existing two tier system, with staff who joined after 1997 being paid less than those employed before that date.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
How talks are progressing between the two sides



SEE ALSO
Q&A: BA strike
25 Jan 07 |  Business
Profile: BA boss Willie Walsh
25 Jan 07 |  Business
BA seeks talks to avert walk-out
22 Jan 07 |  Business

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