BA in last-ditch talks to avert strike

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British Airways Plc (BA) and cabin crew representatives are set to hold talks aimed at stopping strikes that would hit thousands of passengers flying in and out of the UK over Christmas, as Prime Minister Theresa May’s government clashes with unions over a wave of industrial action.
The Unite trade union and BA agreed to meet in London in an attempt to resolve a row over pay and work conditions before as many as 4,500 workers based at the city’s Heathrow Airport walk out on Dec. 25 and 26, the conciliation service Acas said in an e-mailed statement.
It is one of a number of industrial disputes that have hit the U.K. this holiday season, with strikes scheduled for the railway network, mail service and airport baggage handling.
Politicians have urged unions to reconsider what’s being called the “Christmas of discontent” strike action, while members of May’s cabinet have reacted with dismay to reports that the unions’ real target is not employers in private transport firms but the Tory government.
Ministers said they sensed that the strikes were motivated by politics, as unions are major funders of the main Opposition Labour Party.
“Labour’s refusal to condemn their union paymasters shows how out of touch they are with ordinary working people,” said Patrick McLoughlin, the chairman of May’s Conservative Party and a member of her cabinet, in a post on Twitter on Sunday.
A report in The Sunday Times newspaper claimed that the president of the RMT rail union vowed to use strikes on southern England trains to topple the Conservative government, a claim which the union has denied. David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, said the allegation was “more evidence” that unions were “motivated by political objectives not passenger safety.”
Mick Cash, the RMT union’s general secretary, said his members would rather be at work but had genuine concerns about safety.
“We are a serious industrial trade union, and we are not part of some conspiracy to bring the government down. We are focusing on the concerns our members have over safety on the railways,” Cash told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live.

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