BA chief 'delighted' as staff vote to back deal

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The Independent Online

British Airways expressed "delight" today after its Heathrow customer service staff voted overwhelmingly to accept new working practices.

The airline, which is in dispute with Unite over a long running cabin crew row, said "significant" productivity gains had been secured through the introduction of more flexible working arrangements for almost 3,000 staff at Terminals 3 and 5.

Members of the GMB and Unite unions overwhelmingly backed changes which will reduce manpower by 500 by next March with 300 already having taken voluntary redundancy or flexible working options, such as voluntary part-time contracts.

Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB, said: "This vote is a ringing endorsement of all the hard work done by GMB workplace representatives at BA over 12 months to achieve a negotiated settlement to secure a future for the airline.

"GMB members hope that the future for BA will be bright and that when growth resumes that the prosperity can be shared between our members and the company."

BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, said: "This is another important step towards securing permanent structural change and the long term future of the company. It also underlines our commitment to working with all of our trade unions, including Unite.

"I'm delighted that our colleagues have voted in favour of the productivity deal that offers them future job security and will provide a more flexible, cost-efficient and customer-focused ground operation at Heathrow."

The cabin crew dispute remains deadlocked although fresh talks between Unite and BA are likely to be held soon.