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Unions deny BA pensions agreement

UK - Unions have denied they are in agreement with British Airways over its proposed restructuring of the airline's major pension scheme.

Last week BA announced that trade unions would recommend the changes to members, which will inject billions of pounds in cash to the scheme but still require a reduction in promised benefits.

But a spokesman for Balpa, the pilots' union which has 2,850 members at BA, said that its company council would only make a formal consideration of the proposals this Friday.
The spokesman confirmed that a formal consideration would not necessarily lead to endorsement and said that BA was "a bit naughty" to claim it already had the four unions' agreement.

The proposals would see the company pay £800m (€1.19bn) into the final salary scheme before May and around £280m for the next ten years.
Some members' benefits, however would still decrease because the extra money is only to help fill a widening hole in the scheme's funding. The deficit has already risen from £928m in 2003 to £2.1bn in 2006 in spite of a doubling of the employer's contribution and closure to new members.

BA set up a defined contribution scheme for new joiners in 2003.

Balpa is prepared for the normal retirement age of pilots to rise from 55 to 60. The Transport & General Workers' Union is balloting its members already on industrial action although this is on issues other than pensions and could be resolved separately.

Low morale among BA staff is believed to explain in part the unusually high disruption of flights by the carrier over the Christmas period.

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