The long and contentious dispute between British Airways and Unite, the union that represents the airline’s cabin crew members, may be coming to an end.
On Friday, British Airways offered to restore the travel perks that had been previously stripped from cabin crew members that went on strike earlier this year.
British Airways’ removal of travel perks had been a sticking point in earlier negotiations.
In July, a round of strikes followed Unite’s rejection of an offer by the airline because the offer did not return perks to the estimated 5,000 employees that chose to strike in March.
The earlier proposal also did not reinstate the position of cabin crew members that were fired or suspended because of the dispute.
Today’s proposal, however, would not only return travel perks, but also would give back seniority to striking workers over the next three years.
Under the proposal, staff will be eligible for 90 percent off the cost of air travel reinstated on October 26. However, not every crew member will have full perks restored immediately, and some crew will not be eligible for the concessions till 2013.
BA says it will restore perks on the condition of “good behavior” and on a commitment by Unite not to pursue further legal action.
Airline analysts and British Airways brass say that the concession is a positive step toward the resolution of the airline’s dispute with workers. Cabin crew member representatives have agreed to present the proposal to Unite on Tuesday, so that it may be voted on.
British Airways and its cabin crew members have been at odds for around 20 months over pay and working conditions. Workers have gone on strikes for 22 days since the beginning of the year, costing the airline more than $235 million.
By Adriana Padilla at PeterGreenberg.com.
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