'Cool it' plea in BA crew dispute

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The union representing British Airways cabin crew last night urged the airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh, to "cool the rhetoric and to get back around the table" to avert seven days of strike action later this month. Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, called for BA to reopen negotiations.

The union expects thousands of staff to walk out for three days on 20 March and for four days on 27 March. Further action is expected in April, if the dispute over cost-cutting, pay and conditions remains unresolved.

Mr Dromey told the BBC yesterday: "My advice to Willie would be to tone down some of the things he has been saying in the public arena and put the best interests of the passengers first."

His comments came after Mr Walsh, writing in yesterday's Daily Mail, accused Unite of "trying to break the company".

BA said that until it revised its flying schedule this week, all passengers who had booked to travel between 19-31 March could choose to rebook, cancel or get a refund.