David Prosser: BT and CWU prove it's good to talk

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Outlook: Congratulations to BT (and to the Communication Workers Union) for coming up with a pay deal that saves face for both sides and avoids the sort of painful industrial dispute still festering on at British Airways.

Still, it was a mighty close thing. Had the CWU not mucked up its ballot, it seems likely that a strong positive vote for strike action would have been announced last Monday afternoon. Instead, BT had time to make an improved offer and the CWU had the sense to grasp it with both hands. Analysts reckon the deal will cost BT £50m more than the last offer it made, which seems a small price to pay for a company that made a £1bn profit last year. Particularly as a strike might have cost the company much more.

In the end, an agreement was possible because both BT and its trade union have been relatively restrained during their pay dispute, resisting the temptation to hurl insults at each other even when negotiations broke down. It is a lesson that both BA and its union should learn from.