Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Unions to fight BA's decision to shed almost a quarter of its workforce


Unions representing British Airways' staff say they will fight the airline's plan to make up to 12,000 job cuts.

Parent company IAG insists the redundancies are necessary as the group made a first quarter operating loss of €535m, most of which is linked to BA.

IAG said it expected to lose even more money in the second quarter.

"In light of the impact of COVID-19 on current operations and the expectation that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years, British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a roposed restructuring and redundancy programme," IAG said.

"The proposals remain subject to consultation but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways' employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them."

Cabin crew union Unite said it was a 'misjudgement' for BA to have rejected government support then to fire staff instead. General secretary Len McCluskey added: "This devastating announcement comes on the day that BA staff joined together to lay to rest one of their own, a long-standing and much loved cabin crew member who tragically died from the coronavirus contracted while carrying out his duties bringing home loved ones from overseas to reunite concerned families.  This announcement will be felt as the stab in the back it undoubtedly is by the close knit BA family.  

 "We say to BA's boss Alex Cruz that this is a heartless decision in a time of national crisis. With the majority of BA's workers on furlough, we would have expected him to work with both us and the government to honour the spirit of the government's job retention scheme.
"Governments across Europe, in Spain, Germany and France are working with trade unions and airlines to rebuild back better, keeping people in work while the sector recovers.  We simply cannot understand as to why Alex Cruz is not doing the same, unless he has sought an opportunity to see other airlines fail, so that BA can profit.  
"To reject government support but then expect their own staff to pay the cost of such a misjudgement, is irresponsible, dangerous and destructive and is utterly at odds with the mood of the country at a time of crisis.
"Creating unemployment is a conscious choice by an employer, not an inevitability.  
"This workforce has worked tirelessly, heroically and unnoticed throughout this crisis, in dangerous circumstances on the global transport frontline. A repatriation flight is without doubt rife with risk with the potential exposure of airline crew and staff. In recent weeks, they have played their part, with many volunteering for rescue flights, regardless of their own safety and often with little or no PPE equipment to help distressed UK citizens come home to their loved ones. 
"They simply do not deserve to be treated as a commodity to be disposed of in this way.  Unite values their sacrifice, as do the families that they have brought together and can be assured that their union will not tolerate this indecent mistreatment of these brave men and women.
"This industry must pull together or many more working people will suffer the same fate as these 12,000 BA workers."

Pilots association BALPA said all staff were 'devastated' by the news. "This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the COVID storm and declined any Government support," said general secretary Brian Strutton.

"BALPA does not accept that a case has been made for these job losses and we will be fighting to save every single one."

The fact that the airline is looking at shedding almost a quarter of its 45,000-strong workforce suggests BA is planning to significantly reduce its operations from its pre-lockdown levels.

At the moment, around 90% of its flights are grounded and 22,626 staff are furloughed under the Government's job retention scheme.

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  • Why aren't 90%

    Or more being laid off ? Ba are not a charity

    By Michael Anderson, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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