BA turns to conciliators to break deadlock with unions

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The Independent Online

British Airways (BA) has called in outside conciliators to help it broker a deal with its trade unions over job losses and pay cuts.

Its chief executive, Willie Walsh, has warned staff that the recession-hit company is "fighting for survival", and several thousand employees have agreed to short-term cuts. But the 30 June deadline for a company-wide deal came and went, forcing BA to turn to Acas in an attempt to avoid a summer of strikes.

"It has not proved possible to conclude an agreement with the trade unions on our pay and productivity discussions by the deadline," the company said yesterday. "We have therefore asked the conciliation service, Acas, to facilitate any future meetings we may have."

Last month some 800 BA staff volunteered to work for no basic pay for between one and four weeks this year, and another 6,000 agreed to periods of unpaid leave or part-time working to help cut the group's costs.

BA slumped to a £401m loss last year, hit particularly hard by the fall in transatlantic business and first-class travel. Mr Walsh and BA's finance director, Keith Williams, have agreed to forgo their salaries this month, saving the carrier around £100,000.

Seven British Airways executives yesterday vested shares from bonuses for 2005/6, among them Mr Walsh and Mr Williams, who cleared around £35,000 and £21,000 respectively. At yesterday's share price of 124p, the directors received only around 60 per cent of the sum they would have made a year ago.

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