Talks continue to avert planned airline strikesBA says passengers can change travel dates

22 January 2007

 

British Airways (BA) passengers who have booked to fly during the period of planned industrial action can now change the date of their trip.

The airline said it would allow customers travelling between Monday 29 January and Friday 16 February to amend their travel dates.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers will have their plans disrupted if the dispute between BA and the airline’s crew goes ahead.

Which? Legal Service Lawyer Peter McCarthy said: ‘Any flight cancellations that result from the strike action would be covered by the Denied Boarding Regulations which would give consumers the entitlement to a full refund or re-routing.  

'But it’s unlikely it will offer compensation as strikes are listed as extraordinary circumstances under the Denied Boarding Regulations.’

Both sides in the bitter dispute over sickness absence, pay and staff said they wanted to resolve the row.

Three day walkout

BA has called in the conciliation service Acas in an effort to head off the first three-day walkout next week.

The Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) has called its 11,000 cabin crew members at the airline out on strike on 29, 30 and 31 January. It has warned of further stoppages on 5, 6, and 7 February and 12, 13, and 14 February unless there is a deal.

Talks between the two sides broke down last night but further negotiations are expected later today. BA chief executive Willie Walsh told the BBC that he believed there was a basis for a solution.

‘I encouraged the T&G to sit at the table for as long as it takes to resolve these issues. We have asked Acas to get involved to assist in these talks.

‘We want to resolve these issues through dialogue. Threatening our customers is not the way forward. We have to avoid disruption.’

'Fresh start'

The union’s deputy general secretary Jack Dromey said it was time for BA to ‘start listening and stop lecturing’, adding that the union was prepared to have a ‘fresh start’.

He went on: ‘We want better engagement between BA and its employees. The reality in BA is that workers who are sick come to work because they fear the consequences and that cannot be right.’

The airline said demands being made by the T&G would add £37 million to the company's costs and lead to pay rises of up to 18 per cent.

Mr Dromey added that the next 48 to 72 hours were critical in trying to resolve the dispute. He said: ‘There has to be a will on both sides. We have spoken to Acas. We need a settlement. We will negotiate night and day in the best interests of the cabin crew.’