BA crew dispute formally settled

The bitter British Airways cabin crew dispute finally came to an end today after staff accepted a peace deal to end 18 months of conflict.

Unite said its members voted 92% in favour of what it described as an "honourable settlement", with 8% against in a turnout of 72%.

Just under 10,000 cabin crew were balloted by Unite, which announced that the dispute - one of the longest in recent history - was formally over.

Unite recommended the deal, which it said will see travel concessions returned to the BA crew who had the facility removed when they went on strike last year.

Agreements have also been made on a new pay deal, and on safeguarding routes and working arrangements as BA introduces a new fleet of crew.

There will also be a third party binding arbitration process established to consider the cases of crew disciplined by the airline during the dispute.

Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, who drew up the deal with BA's chief executive Keith Williams, said: "Unite always firmly believed that this dispute would be solved not through conflict but through negotiation. Thankfully we have reached an honourable agreement with BA.

"The overwhelming acceptance of this deal by cabin crew means that both parties can now move forward together on securing a bright future for the airline.

"I want to pay personal tribute to the cabin crew for the principled stand they took. In these difficult times it takes courage to stand up for what you believe, but thousands of crew did so, at great personal expense and emotional cost.

"Their strength and sacrifice is to be admired and I hope it sends a message to employers everywhere that working with your workforce is the only way to secure productive change."

Thousands of staff took part in 22 days of strikes last year, which cost BA £150 million, although the airline said it had made savings as a result of the long-term structural changes now in place with its crews.

The changes made to the number of cabin crew on BA flights had given the airline an annual saving of £60 million, said the firm.

The two sides were locked in one of the longest disputes in the UK for years after cost-cutting moves taken by the airline.

The conflict spread to other areas after BA withdrew travel concessions from Unite members who went on strike, and took disciplinary action against a number of staff.

A BA spokesman said: "The skills and professionalism of British Airways cabin crew are second to none, and we are delighted this dispute is behind us.

"We have made permanent structural savings to our business, which is now ready to invest £5.5 billion over the next five years for the benefit of our customers."