British Airways today insisted it was committed to working with its trade unions despite claims that it was engaged in "union busting" over the bitter row with its cabin crew.

Unite has announced it was calling a meeting of its representatives at the company to give details of what it believed was a plan to "eliminate" it from a sizeable part of the organisation.

Around 80 British Airways cabin crew have now been sacked or suspended since the start of the conflict, which started out over cost-cutting but has grown into a dispute over staff travel concessions and disciplinary action, with little prospect of the deadlock being broken.

Tony Woodley, Unite's joint leader, said today he remained committed to reaching a settlement, but he accused BA of prolonging the dispute by insisting on "collective punishment" of cabin crew who took part in a wave of strikes earlier this year.

"It is now clear that agreed procedures are being abused for purposes of trying to destroy trade unionism among cabin crew. It was my view from the start that this, not cost reductions, was BA's real agenda and looking at the company's recent actions unfortunately I have been proved right," he said.

A BA spokesman said: "We have been available for talks at every stage, and continue to remain in contact with Unite.

"We remain committed to working with our trade unions and have already agreed deals with Unite, on our pensions plan and with our engineers represented by the union."