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Published on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

IAG chief Willie Walsh blasts UK Government and union leaders






 


British Airways' parent IAG has hit back at MPs who labelled the airline a 'national disgrace' for its plan to make 12,000 staff redundant and re-negotiate the contracts of the remaining 30,000.

In a letter to chair of the government's transport committee Huw Merriman, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said he formally rejected the committee's findings and recommendations.

Instead, he claimed the Government was hindering the aviation sector and he claimed BA's staff had been betrayed by their union.

Writing to Merriman, Walsh said: "You made clear several weeks ago that the report would be 'fuelled by the kind and impassioned messages' you received, rather than the facts. The facts, however, are clear. The Government has no plans to help the sector restart and recover as evidenced by the introduction of the 14-day quarantine regulation."

The transport committee report slammed BA for its alleged threat to fire and rehire staff on lower pay unless they agree to less favourable terms and conditions, but Walsh claimed the tactic had been sanctioned by the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.

"This is an approach that was described as "perfectly lawful" and "the lawful way in which the law permits employers to change contracts of employment where they can't reach an agreed variation with the employees" by [trade union] Unite's own Senior Counsel in High Court proceedings against BA in 2010," wrote Walsh.

He added: "The approach that British Airways is taking, is in full compliance with the law and has been used by numerous employers for many years. Considering this, your criticism in unjustified."

Walsh went on to claim that unions representing BA staff, including Unite, which has been vocal in its criticism of the airline, had refused to negotiate with management.

"The people working at British Airways are indeed passionate about the company and want it to succeed. I genuinely believe they want to help but they have been betrayed by their trade union leaders and their elected representatives who have refused to engage in consultations from the outset," he wrote.

"The truth is, indeed, rarely pure and never simple.

"British Airways is mired in the deepest crisis the company has ever faced and is acting in a perfectly lawful manner. British Airways is fighting for its survival, in the face of overwhelming and unprecedented challenges, while respecting the fundamental British value of the rule of law.

"This is not a disgrace. Lying down and surrendering without a fight would be a disgrace and we will not do that.

"This is a crisis not of our making but one which we must address. We will continue do everything in our power to ensure that British Airways can survive and sustain the maximum number of jobs consistent with the new reality of a changed airline industry in a severely weakened national and global economy."




 

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