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British Airways Crew Accept Deal to End Dispute

British Airways PlaneThe cabin crew at British Airways have finally accepted a peace deal that will end the 18-month dispute between them and the carrier. This comes as the Unite union announced that its members voted in favour of a ‘honourable settlement’. The union said that 72% of its members gave their decision on the deal, and 92% voted in favour, leaving only 8% against. Now one of the longest disputes in recent history is formally over.

Unite recommended that its members accept the deal, which it said will return travel concessions to those crew who had them taken away for participating in the strike last year. The deal also includes a new pay deal and the safeguarding of working arrangements and routes as the airline introduces new crew members. A third party binding arbitration will also be established to consider the cases in which the carrier disciplined crew during the dispute.

Thousands of cabin crew participated in the 22 days of strikes in March and the summer of last year, costing British Airways about £150 million. However, the carrier said it made savings due to the long-term structural changes currently in place with staff, which meant less crew on flights, giving the airline £60 million in savings a year. The changes are what started the whole dispute in the first place, but it quickly spread to other issues after the airline withdrew travel concessions from those who went on strike, as well as took disciplinary action against some workers.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who negotiated with British Airways chief executive Keith Williams for the deal, said that the union always firmly believed the dispute would be resolved through negotiation, not conflict. Thankfully this honourable agreement has been reached, and its overwhelming approval by cabin crew means both sides can move forward together on ensuring the airline’s bright future.

McCluskey paid tribute to the principled stand that the cabin crew took, as it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in during these hard times. This came at great personal expense and emotional cost to the staff, and this is to be admired. He added that he hopes it will send a message to employers everywhere that working with staff is the only way to ensure a productive change.

A spokesman for British Airways said that the professionalism and skill of the airline’s cabin crew are second to none, and they are delighted the dispute is over now. They have made permanent structural savings to the company, which is now ready to invest £5.5 billion for the benefit of consumers over the next 5 years.

Although this dispute is over, there are still others going on. Pilots working for Virgin Atlantic have threatened to strike over pay. The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) says that 94% of its members turned out for a strike ballot, and 97% of them voted in favour. The pilots were expecting more than a 4% pay rise after foregoing increases in recent years.

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