BA crews accept new deal

British Airways cabin crew signalled the end of their bitter 18-month dispute with the airline today, removing the threat of fresh strikes this summer.



A mass meeting of Unite members voted almost unanimously to put a new deal to a ballot of around 7,000 workers, with a recommendation to accept.



Union leaders said they believe there will be a huge vote in favour when the result is known next month, finally bringing to an end one of the longest-running industrial disputes for years.



More than 1,000 Unite members met in a marquee close to Heathrow Airport to be told that the main areas of dispute had been resolved following weeks of talks between general secretary Len McCluskey and BA chief executive Keith Williams.



Under the agreement, travel concessions removed from cabin crew who took part in 22 days of strikes last year will be restored from July.



Disciplinary action taken against dozens of Unite members will be referred to the conciliation service Acas, ending another sticking point to a peace deal.



Mr McCluskey said a two-year pay rise had also been agreed, giving rises of 4% this year and 3.5% next year, subject to productivity agreements.



BA said it was pleased the threat of industrial action had been removed, adding that the agreed changes will modernise industrial relations.



Mr McCluskey praised the cabin crew for their "determination and solidarity" and also welcomed the efforts of Mr Williams, who took over from Willie Walsh last year following BA's merger with Spanish carrier Iberia.



He said: "We are recommending this deal because we believe it is an honourable settlement. There is a change within the management psyche at BA, driven by the chief executive. If we embrace that, we are confident that the future will be good."



Mr McCluskey, who was loudly applauded by the cabin crew, many wearing their BA uniform, said Unite wanted to help build up the airline's reputation and brand, which he admitted had been damaged by the dispute.



Industrial action would have been called within days if the deal had not been negotiated, it is understood.



"We look forward to working with the company to repair the wounds and to make sure that BA has a strong reputation as an iconic British company, going from strength to strength."



During the hour-long mass meeting, there were loud cheers when Mr McCluskey reminded the cabin crew that Mr Walsh had moved on to run the merged organisation, while the workers had remained.









A BA spokesman said: "On behalf of our customers, we are very pleased the threat of industrial action has been lifted and that we have reached a point where we can put this dispute behind us.



"Our agreement with Unite involves acknowledgement by the union that the cost-saving structural changes we have made in cabin crew operations are permanent.



"We have also agreed changes that will modernise our crew industrial relations and help ensure that this kind of dispute cannot occur again.



"British Airways cabin crew are rightly renowned for their professionalism and skills.



"Our airline has a great future, and everyone within it intends to move forward together."



Mr McCluskey, who took over as leader of Unite last year, said: "We always said that this dispute could only be settled by negotiation, not by confrontation or litigation, and so it has proved.



"We are delighted to have reached an agreement which I believe recognises the rights and dignity of cabin crew as well as the commercial requirements of the company. This agreement will allow us to go forward in partnership together to strengthen this great British company - good news for BA, its employees and its customers alike.



"I am particularly pleased that staff travel concessions will be restored in full with the signing of the agreement and the implementation of the new structure for working together that we have negotiated. A customer-oriented business can only succeed with all its employees valued and respected."



During the mass meeting, held in private, Mr McCluskey said the union felt it had gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, but was still standing.



To ram home the point, Elton John's I'm Still Standing was played on loudspeakers after the vote was taken.



Fewer than 30 of those present voted against putting the agreement to a ballot.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine