Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

BA strike: Unite talks to US Teamsters union

BA planes
BA faces significant disruption over the strike period

British Airways union Unite is to meet its US counterpart Teamsters on Wednesday to discuss the strike by the airline's cabin crew.

Teamsters, the main transport union in the US, confirmed that the meeting had been arranged.

It said it would "stand in solidarity" with Unite, but it is unclear what part, if any, the US union would play in the strikes.

The first strike by BA cabin crew is due to begin on Saturday.

Unite played down the meeting, saying that Unite would be meeting Teamsters officials to explain the background of the dispute.

Lord Mandelson on BA strike: "It will hurt the company... it will hurt the workforce"

"Unite has received a large number of inquiries from unions around the world offering their support to cabin crew," it said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Teamsters said: "The Teamsters are an active member of the International Transport Workers Federation.

"ITF affiliates around the world are mobilising to support British Airways workers in their fight for passenger safety and worker respect."

But the Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: "It doesn't mean talking to the international trade unions will deliver them [Unite] what they want."

I gather the aim in talking to these other trade unions is to seek to block BA flights from landing during the period of the dispute
Theresa Villiers, shadow transport secretary

He said that the government was urging both Unite and BA management to continue negotiations to move away from a strike.

The shadow transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, said Unite was "seeking to make things worse and internationalise the dispute".

"I gather the aim in talking to these other trade unions is to seek to block BA flights from landing during the period of the dispute," she said.

Teamsters has 1.4 million members in the US, including 40,000 workers in the aviation industry.

BA said it was "sad" to see Unite "seeking backing from trade unions overseas to support its unjustified strike against an iconic British brand".

Unite has dismissed claims by BA that 1,000 volunteers among other BA staff have offered to work as cabin crew during the strike.

'Not helpful'

Meanwhile, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has been involved in separate talks with both Unite and British Airways to try and avert this weekend's threatened strike, says BBC political correspondent Norman Smith.


So far, however, this has failed to provide any breakthrough.

The conciliation service Acas has also rebuked both sides for leaking details of last weekend's failed talks.

In a statement, an Acas spokeswoman said: "It is not helpful to discuss details of exploratory talks in public, which is why Acas always asks parties to keep details confidential.

"We never disclose details of talks to third parties, which means that we will make no further comment in this case."

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Washington PostBA strikers look for US, European support - 5 hrs ago
Ananova American Union May Help BA Strikers - 11 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald BA strikers look for US, Europe support - 20 hrs ago
Channel 4 News BA adds extra flights to beat strike - 21 hrs ago
Management Today Magazine BA union tries to escalate with Teamsters tie-up - 26 hrs ago
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