British Airways may go to arbitration

Author: By Alan Jones, Press Association

Talks aimed at agreeing a series of cost-cutting measures including a pay
freeze and more than 3,500 job losses ended without agreement last night
even though the airline had set a deadline of yesterday for reaching a deal.

The GMB and Unite unions said they would return for more negotiations today
but it was unclear whether BA would take part.

The company said last night that the talks had now ended, adding that it would
comment “in due course”.

Sources close to the negotiations said today that the conciliation service
Acas or another third party could now be called in to help reach a deal.

A breakdown in the negotiations would lead to the threat of industrial action
by thousands of BA workers over the busy summer months, which would heap
more problems on BA.

Unions have said they are willing to continue talking to the management about
ways of cutting costs and saving money as the airline continues to be hit by
the recession.

But a number of sticking points remain, including fears of compulsory job
losses as well as concern over planned changes to consultations over
redundancies.

The unions said they had never agreed to a deadline and have organised a lobby
of workers when they arrive at a hotel near Heathrow Airport today in
readiness for any fresh talks.

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