Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

BA strike: Second day of talks with union resume

British Airways aircraft
British Airways and Unite are seeking a last-minute resolution

Negotiations between British Airways and the Unite union over the planned cabin crew strikes are under way for a second consecutive day.

It is still unclear if a deal to head off the strike action is any closer.

The dispute with cabin crew is about BA's plans to change working practices and pay.

The first three-day strike is due to begin on Saturday, affecting over a thousand flights, with a second strike scheduled for 27 March.

BA placed full page adverts in 12 UK newspapers on Friday reassuring customers it would do its best to minimise disruption.

"I believe Unite has made the wrong decision and misjudged the mood of our times," said British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh. "My door remains open to Unite."

The union is holding a rally for cabin crew staff at Sandown Park racecourse.

One member talked anonymously to the BBC News Channel.

BA striker: "We are standing up to a corporate bully"

He said the strike was initially about the imposition of new terms but "lately, it's really been about the bullying and the intimidation that some of my colleagues have had to suffer at the hands of this management".

"We're all here hoping that a deal is going to be made today. Really the only person that can do that deal is Mr Walsh and I beg him to take a step back."

BA and Unite began surprise talks on Thursday morning, after which Unite's joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, briefed union officials for an hour.

Mr Woodley told the BBC on Thursday that there was still no breakthrough.

"It's a very difficult set of negotiations," he said. "It's far too early to say that there will be a resolution here."


A BA spokeswoman would not comment on the resumption of negotiations.

Previously Mr Woodley called on BA to put an earlier deal to end the strikes "back on the table" - a move he said would allow him to call off the strike.

That settlement offer had included commitments on working hours and annual pay rises in exchange for the cabin crew workers agreeing to BA's planned £62.5m of cost cuts.

Contingency plans

But despite the continued talks, time is running out before the first day of industrial action on Saturday.

BA has announced contingency plans that will allow it to fly 65% of its customers during this weekend's industrial action.

A total of 1,100 flights out of the 1,950 scheduled to operate during the first three strike dates will be cancelled.

But all long-haul flights and more than half of short-haul flights from Gatwick are expected to operate as normal.

At Heathrow, more than 60% of long-haul flights will operate, though only 30% of short-haul flights are expected to operate with the help of aircraft leased from eight rival airlines.

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