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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 15:33 GMT
BA walkout delayed for 24 hours
British Airways planes
BA boss Willie Walsh intervened personally in the dispute
A planned strike by thousands of British Airways cabin crew has been postponed for 24 hours to allow more time for talks, the T&G union has said.

A three-day walkout had been scheduled to begin on 29 January.

But the union announced that the action - in a dispute over sickness, pay and staff issues - would now last for two days, on 30 and 31 January.

BA called on the union to completely cancel the strike, saying that enough progress had been made in the talks.

The airline said any action would affect hundreds of thousands of passengers.

BA boss Willie Walsh said: "The T&G has taken a small step forward, but it should now take a proper stride and end the anxiety it is causing for so many of our customers.

"The solution to this dispute can, and should, be found at the negotiating table and not on the picket lines."

'Goodwill gesture'

Mr Walsh criticised the union for rejecting the idea of intervention by conciliation service Acas, but praised T&G boss Tony Woodley for his attempts to solve the dispute.

Mr Woodley said the postponement was a "goodwill gesture" brought about by a personal intervention from Mr Walsh.

Mr Woodley said the postponement "extends the time available to secure a settlement to the outstanding problems".

"I hope that the company will now join us in making every effort to do so."

The postponement followed five hours of talks between Mr Walsh and senior shop stewards from the union's cabin crew branch.

If the strike is not called off by Thursday, BA has pledged to announce details of its flight programme for the strike days.

Of 14,000 cabin crew, about 11,000 are members of the T&G.

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 necessary to cut high levels of sickness absence.

Staff now take 12 days' sick each year on average - down from 22 days before the new rules were brought in, the firm says.

Another issue is starter pay rates for crew members.

Walkouts are still scheduled to take place on 30 and 31 January, followed by 72-hour strikes beginning on 5 February and 12 February.


SEE ALSO
BA seeks talks to avert walk-out
22 Jan 07 |  Business
Q&A: Proposed BA strike
22 Jan 07 |  Business

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