BA and Union agree deal to hold off strikes

LONDON Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:38am EDT

British Airways cabin crew picket at Heathrow Airport in London June 5, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

British Airways cabin crew picket at Heathrow Airport in London June 5, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Leaders of the Unite union have held back from calling a fresh wave of strikes by British Airways BA.L cabin crew to allow peace talks to continue.

BA cabin crew last month voted in favour of taking fresh strike action in a dispute that has so far cost IAG (ICAG.L)-owned BA more than 150 million pounds.

Unite had until April 15 to decide whether to name strike dates but in a joint statement the two sides said that a 28 day extension had been agreed to allow peace talks to continue.

"The current strike ballot mandate given by Cabin Crew means industrial action must be announced by 15th April... both parties accept that this would severely undermine any attempt at a genuine settlement," BA and Unite said on Thursday.

"Accordingly, BA is prepared to grant an extension of 28 days to the union."

The dispute, which began in November 2009 when BA announced it was cutting crew pay and reducing staffing, now centres on issues including the removal of travel concessions from crew members who took part in earlier strikes.

Shares in IAG, which have fallen a fifth in 2011 on concerns about rising oil prices, closed 0.5 percent down at 225.3 pence on Thursday, valuing the company at around 4.2 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by Neil Maidment)