British Airways’ plans to axe 12,000 jobs on August 7 has provoked an angry warning from the Unite union about an ‘immediate” ballot to strike.
Unite has accused the airline of operating a “fire and rehire” policy and has written to BA pilots, cabin crew and engineers saying strike action is likely “with immediate effect”.
In a letter to BA, the general secretary of Unite Len McCluskey accused the airline’s chief executive Alex Cruz of “arrogance” in his dealings with the union that saw no agreement reached and publication of a timetable “to fire and rehire thousands of your workforce on 7 August.”
McCluskey’s letter, reported by the BBC, affirms: “We will work every hour between now and then to convince you not to do so.
“You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this as an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect”.
MPs call BA treatment of staff ‘a national disgrace’
The Mirror reports BA staff have been warned that without an agreement being reached by August 7, staff “would be handed their notice and rehired on a lower pay grade.”
The Common’s transport select committee branded British Airways’ treatment of staff as “a national disgrace” in June when MPs accused the airline of “taking advantage” of the global crisis to cut costs by cutting 12,000 jobs and reducing the pay of thousands of other workers.
The committee “looked closely at BA’s plans to consult on at least 12000 redundancies and change the terms and conditions of the bulk of its employees”, states their report.
It continues: “This wanton destruction of a loyal work force cannot appear to go without sanction – by Government, parliamentarians or paying passengers who may choose differently in future. We view it is as a national disgrace.”
Campaign group BAbetrayal claims: “British Airways is the only company attempting to fire nearly all its 42,000 staff and re-hire on drastically slashed pay and conditions.”
The group calls the airline’s “handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the treatment of its staff” as “nothing less than incompetent”. It states that 225 MPs have expressed their support for BA workers and “over 160 [MPs] have signed our pledge to strip BA of its lucrative landing slots if they don’t step back.”
‘The biggest challenge airline industry has ever faced’
British Airways, like Virgin earlier in the crisis, has called for a government bailout for the airline industry to manage the pandemic.
The company first warned in April about the 12,000 jobs cut and said the coronavirus crisis has seen its revenues plunge 13% and called it “the biggest challenge the airline and our industry has ever faced”.
BA has managed to reach a deal with its pilots to avoid 1,250 job losses by making 270 redundancies instead – “in return for other staff taking pay cuts”, reports the Guardian.
‘Queen of the skies’ grounded
BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) has raised around £750 million from an air miles deal with American Express for future flights and announced on Friday (July 24) it was “considering the merits” of a €2.75 billion rights issue, one week after British Airways announced the retirement of its entire fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
The airline operated 31 of the iconic planes called the ‘queen of the skies’ by aficionados and the airline itself, which announced: “It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
“While the aircraft will always have a special place in our heart, as we head into the future we will be operating more flights on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft such as our new A350s and 787s, to help us achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”