BA crews to work new rotas until court hearing

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The Independent Travel

British Airways cabin crew agreed "unwillingly" today to work the new schedules brought in by the airline until a full trial of the dispute next year.

After out-of-court discussions following a morning of legal submissions from counsel for the workers' union, Unite, the two sides agreed to come back on 1 February.

That estimated five-day hearing will resolve whether there should be a permanent injunction preventing BA from imposing cost-cutting proposals, which are due to start on 16 November.

BA says that it is entitled unilaterally to reduce cabin crew complements on board their Worldwide and Eurofleet flights as these are not terms of individual cabin crew members' contracts.

But Unite has said BA would be in breach of contract by imposing the changes as the existing crew complements were fixed by collective agreements with the unions and were "expressly incorporated" into their individual contracts of employment.

Its QC, John Hendy, told Mr Justice Butterfield at London's High Court that the changes would "materially and detrimentally affect the health and well-being of staff and passengers on board the flights".

BA's stance was that, while there would be a "modest increase in work output" for cabin crew, there were no health and safety concerns and the granting of an injunction would be a "commercial catastrophe".

After the trial date was agreed, Mr Hendy told the judge: "In the light of that fixture, my clients are prepared unwillingly to work the new schedules for the period of time up to the end of that trial."

The judge dismissed the application for an interim injunction, commenting: "The parties have come to a compromise which I may very well have reached if I had been left to determine the matter in any event."