British Airways weekend strike called off

British Airways Plc, Europe's second- biggest airline, reached a pay accord with unions, averting a strike planned for the Aug. 27-30 holiday weekend by 11,000 baggage handlers and check-in staff.

Workers will receive a 1,000-pound ($1,820) bonus and a pay increase equal to inflation over the next three years, British Airways spokesman Paul Parry said in an interview. The resolution came during talks with the GMB and Transport & General Workers unions at the airline's headquarters at London Heathrow airport, reports Bloomberg.

But the industrial action was dramatically called off today following late-night talks between the company and representatives of the workers’ unions. A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport welcomed news of the settlement.

"Obviously, this is great news and we are delighted that an agreement has been reached which is good for both the workers and the passengers," he said.

"We had prepared detailed contingency plans which were in place to deal with the strike, but we are always reluctant to put those into effect, and fortunately that has not been necessary.

"Now we can get on with preparation for what will be a very busy weekend." BA had already stopped taking bookings for the last weekend in August, traditionally one of the busiest of the year, because of the threatened disruption.

Following the agreement, the company said it was relieved that holidaymakers would not be affected and resumed its booking service for the weekend, says Scotsman.

The BBC's labour correspondent Stephen Cape told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the deal was a "win, win" situation for BA.

He estimated that the scheme will cover around 47,000 BA staff and described the new policy on absenteeism as the "sting in the tail" of the new settlement.

He said: "They have brought in this tough policy to be kind to people who are genuinely ill and targets those who malinger.

"Seventeen days on average are taken off by BA staff every year against a national average of about seven and it costs BA an absolute fortune. "They believe the deal will be self-financing.", informs BBC.

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