Thousands delayed at airport after BA strikes

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Thousands of passengers endured delays at Heathrow airport yesterday caused by two days of wildcat strikes by British Airways staff.

As many as 80,000 passengers were stranded over the weekend after more than 360 flights were cancelled.

About 1,000 travellers who had been booked on flights cancelled because of strikes on Friday and Saturday had not left the airport by yesterday morning, BA officials said.

Almost every flight due to leave terminal four yesterday was delayed by about an hour as staff struggled to clear the backlog. "We still have passengers who have not been able to travel after last weekend," said a BA spokeswoman.

The strikes were sparked by a new electronic clocking-in system for check-in staff. Hundreds walked out amid fears that the system would lead to them being sent home in quiet periods and called in to make up time on busier days.

Last night, crisis talks between BA managers and officials from three unions, the GMB, Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union, continued. However, BA confirmed that the introduction of the system, which was due to be implemented today, would be set back until tomorrow, to allow discussions to continue.A 3 per cent pay offer had earlier angered workers because it was conditional on them accepting the clocking-in system.

"Both sides have agreed to reconvene talks," the company said. "As a result of this, we have agreed to put back the introduction of Automated Time Recording by 24 hours until noon on Wednesday to allow for discussions to continue."