British Airways strike threat gains support from powerful US trade union

The dispute between British Airways (BA) and Unite will become international today when representatives of the union meet with counterparts at Teamsters, the powerful US trade union, to discuss the looming cabin crew strike.

Teamsters members have the potential to affect BA’s lucrative US routes because they work on ground operations and aircraft services at major US airports, the Guardian has reported.

James P Hoffa, the Teamsters’ general president, said he had been in contact with Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley to discuss the dispute as time runs out to avoid a three-day strike beginning on Saturday.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Unite who are fighting for a fair contract at British Airways,” said the Teamsters in a statement. “The Teamsters are an active member of the International Transport Workers Federation. ITF affiliates around the world are mobilising to support British Airways workers in their fight for passenger safety and worker respect.”

A BA spokesman said: “It is sad to see Unite seeking backing from trade unions overseas to support its unjustified strikes against an iconic British brand.”

There was some good news for BA, however, with its major unions – Unite, GMB and the pilots’ union, Balpa – agreeing proposals to deal with the £3.7bn hole in the airline’s two pension schemes.

BA said the deal, to be put to the pensions regulator in June, will not lead to the closure of its defined benefit schemes and will maintain annual cash payments into the schemes of £330m.

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