BA peace deal hangs in the balance as union splits

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Attempts to end the lengthy dispute between British Airways and cabin crew have suffered a setback after the branches of Unite that represent the crew refused to back the latest offer.

Unite is due to ballot members on the deal next week but Bassa, the main branch covering BA cabin crew within Unite, said it could not back the offer on the table in its current form. Among the issues causing problems is BA's demand that crew drop any legal action related to the dispute. The airline had called for Unite to recommend the offer to members, but Bassa, along with Amicus, which also looks after crew, has argued this is impossible as it stands.

Ken Ablard, Bassa spokesman, said: "We are quite happy to have this deal put to a ballot but we can't recommend it in its current form. Dropping legal claims would mean dropping claims for those legitimately on long-term sick, for example, who have still lost wages during the action."

This sticking point could lead to the deal – which includes a pay offer and pledges to restore some travel perks to striking staff – failing, with a fresh vote on further industrial action to follow.

A spokeswoman for Unite said it was continuing to plan for the ballot next week. "As part of this, there will be a joint letter to members from Unite and Bassa which will advise members that we are recommending the proposals as this is what is required of us by BA in order for the ballot to proceed," she said. A BA spokeswoman said: "It is Unite who will ballot their members not Bassa or Amicus – which are sections within the union."