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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions