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Latest News - March 2010

March 9, 2010
BA Union Says Strike Even Bet: Lufthansa Truce Holds
Source: BusinessWeek
Author: Steven Rothwell and Cornelius Rahn


March 9 (Bloomberg) -- British Airways Plc’s chances of avoiding a cabin-crew strike after the end of talks are no better than even, a union said, while Deutsche Lufthansa AG pilots pledged to carry on negotiating beyond a deadline.

“It’s a toss of a coin,” Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, which represents 12,000 BA flight attendants in their dispute over staffing levels, said yesterday in an interview during a break in talks. “We’ve said all along we’d like to negotiate a settlement, and I remain positive.”

Discussions with British Airways held under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress, the U.K.’s umbrella organization for labor groups, will continue until midday tomorrow, Unite spokeswoman Pauline Doyle said late today. The negotiations had been set to end today. Unite, which already holds a strike mandate, will decide whether to call a walkout once the deadline expires, McCluskey said.

In Lufthansa’s dispute over the deployment of pilots from recently purchased companies, the Vereinigung Cockpit union will keep talking even after a two-week negotiating period ordered by a court expired yesterday, spokesman Jan Krawitz said.

Unite won backing for a walkout at London-based British Airways in a month-long poll of cabin crew that ended on Feb. 22. The mandate lasts for four weeks, and the union must give the company seven days’ notice of a strike, leaving March 15 as the last day that it could bring workers out.

Agreed Deadline

Today’s deadline for BA negotiations chaired by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber was set with the agreement of both sides, the labor organization said in a statement March 5.

Lufthansa spokeswoman Claudia Lange said that the Cologne, Germany-based carrier is continuing talks as it seeks to avoid the resumption of a four-day strike put on hold by the Frankfurt labor court after less than 24 hours on Feb. 22.

Pilots at Europe’s second-largest airline are seeking a pledge that lower-paid crews from newly acquired airlines

won’t be used at the main German units. Last month’s brief walkout halted two-thirds of services, and Lufthansa has estimated that a strike will cost at least 25 million euros ($34 million) a day.

Aer Lingus Group Plc said it will fire about 230 cabin crew after they rejected plans to shave 97 million euros from annual expenses under a program the carrier called “vital.”

The Irish airline wants to cut its staff by 670 workers and had previously said it would only seek voluntary redundancies. There will be no “sweetheart deal” for cabin crews and the new plan will start “within days,” Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller said at a press conference in Dublin today.





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