Tuesday, June 9, 2020

British Airways: pilots’ fury at airline’s ‘cavalier attitude’ in job talks

Pilots working for British Airways say they are “appalled” at the airline’s attitude to jobs talks, and that negotiations “hang by a thread”.

BA is consulting with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) over 1,130 redundancies, which the carrier says are necessary in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline is planning to cut up to 12,000 of its 42,000 staff overall, including more than a quarter of pilots.

But Brian Strutton, general secretary of the pilots’ union, told The Independent that British Airways has placed a further 125 jobs at risk, and is warning of more drastic action.

He added: “BA has for the first time threatened all 4,300 BA pilots with dismissal and re-engagement if we did not reach agreement on changes to terms and conditions.

“I’m appalled at the cavalier attitude shown by BA towards the Balpa reps and to its pilots.

“It calls into question whether BA is even capable of conducting industrial relations properly and whether anything they say can be trusted.

“This has seriously undermined our talks which now hang by a thread.”

The Unite union, which represents cabin crew, and the GMB, representing ground staff, have not entered into negotiations with British Airways.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, has demanded BA is stripped of valuable slots at Heathrow airport, saying: “The airline is effectively sacking its entire 42,000 workforce,”

His call for permissions to land and take off to be revoked was echoed by Huw Merriman, the Conservative MP who chairs the Transport Select Committee.

Mr Merriman claimed British Airways was ”using this pandemic as a justification to slash jobs and employment terms,” saying: “BA have tried this before but its workforce resisted.

“It’s ethically outrageous our national flag carrier is doing this at the time when the nation is at its weakest.”

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “​We are acting now to protect as many jobs as possible.

“The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy.

“We call on Unite and GMB to consult with us on our proposals as our pilot union, Balpa, is doing. Working together we can protect more jobs as we prepare for a new future.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, has written to all MPs saying: “Nobody is flying.

“British Airways had hoped to operate about 40 per cent of our scheduled flights in July but this has been torpedoed by the introduction of the 14-day quarantine period for people arriving into the UK.”

BA says it is burning through £20 million of cash per day, with no new revenue.

Separately, Qatar Airways is cutting pilots’ salaries by 25 per cent and freezing incremental pay rises. The Independent has seen a letter sent by the chief flight operations officer, Captain Jassim Al-Haroon, detailing the pay cuts and warning that, in addition, many pilots will be made redundant.

(Simon Calder - The Independent)

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