Acas steps into Heathrow dispute as union calls ballot

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The Independent Online

Talks aimed at resolving the bitter dispute at British Airways are to be held at the conciliation service Acas.

The move was announced just hours after talks between the airline and union leaders broke down, leading to the threat of further strikes at Heathrow Airport.

Meanwhile one of the unions involved in the row over a new clocking–on system announced that it will be balloting its 900 members at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports on industrial action.

The noon deadline for introducing the new swipe card system at Heathrow passed without incident despite fears that some staff would stage further unofficial walkouts.

Officials from BA briefed Acas this morning about the dispute, which led to travel disruption for tens of thousands of passengers over the past few days.

Mervyn Walker, BA's Director of Heathrow, told PA News that the company was "ready and eager" to talk to unions at any time.

"We should be talking to try to resolve this and any involvement from Acas is welcome and helpful to us because we want to get this resolved."

Mr Walker said he believed the meeting would go ahead later today although no firm details have yet been arranged.

Acas confirmed it had invited BA and the three unions involved in the row to a meeting.

"We cannot say when talks will take place – we are discussing that at the moment," said an official.

Meanwhile the GMB announced it would be balloting its 900 members who work in the check–in areas at Heathrow and Gatwick on industrial action.

Allan Black, national official of the union, said: "We urge BA to accept the invitation from Acas to enter into further talks.

"But with the precedents that talks over the past two days have set, we will be proceeding with an industrial action ballot at Heathrow and Gatwick.

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