Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Union backs BA furlough deal

Members of Unite employed by British Airways have overwhelmingly voted to approve the airline's furlough deal.

Following a ballot Unite members voted by 99% in favour of the deal, having 'recognised the seriousness of the situation facing the aviation sector'.

The deal was agreed last week following long negotiations but remained subject to approval by a ballot of members.

Under the deal, BA will introduce a modified version of the government's job retention scheme, with workers furloughed on 80% of pay. However, unlike the government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings.

Workers will be able to divert their pension contributions, which are 9-18% of earnings, into their pay for a short period of time.

There will be no unpaid temporary layoffs and there will be no redundancies during this period.

A redundancy process that had already begun has been halted.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "Unite members at British Airways have recognised the seriousness of the situation facing the aviation sector during this unprecedented crisis, and so have voted to accept the deal negotiated by their union.

"Unite will continue to work on ensuring that members who are still flying remain fully protected.

"We will also continue to monitor the furlough arrangements throughout the coronavirus crisis."

The decision comes as data and analytics company GlobalData warned that inaction by some governments could have 'far-reaching consequences' for some of the world's most well known and popular airline brands.

Nick Wyatt, head of R&A and travel and tourism, said: "Which way the industry goes from here remains to be seen, but government action, or in some cases a lack thereof, will be a key determinant. The full force of COVID-19 is now being felt on a global scale and we've reached a critical junction with even the US domestic industry seeing waves of flight suspensions.

"The industry is already approaching terminal decline in just a few weeks of this crisis unfolding and governments need to act before it's too late. Some are now acting with a sense of urgency, but too many remain too inactive.

"A crossroads has been reached and a wrong turn now will have far-reaching consequences for some of the world's most well known and popular airline brands."

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