GMB threatens strike over BA pensions dispute

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The Independent Online

Leaders of 4,500 ground staff at British Airways accused the airline of "jumping the gun" yesterday when it attempted to draw a line under the long-running dispute over pensions, writes Barrie Clement.

The GMB general union is balloting its members on the offer from management which seeks to address a £2.1bn deficit in the pension fund.

The union is due to announce the result of the vote tomorrow and warned of strike action if it was rejected.

Yesterday, BA announced management and pensions trustees had formally agreed a deal which involves company contributions of £280m over the next 10 years and a one-off cash injection of £800m.

Keith Williams, BA's chief financial officer, said the agreement "brings to a close our lengthy consultation on pensions". All unions at BA have accepted the arrangement, except the GMB which represents 4,500 lower-paid ground staff.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the union, said of BA's chief executive: "Willie Walsh has jumped the gun again. He should be well aware that GMB members will not be bullied. The members are currently considering the offer and the outcome of their vote will be known on Friday.

"If the members say they don't like the offer that Walsh is saying is now closed, the next move will be a strike ballot."