British Airways staff have overwhelmingly backed coronavirus furlough deal – Unite

British Airways staff have overwhelmingly backed coronavirus furlough deal – Unite

- in Unite
BA aeroplane taking off

Unite have confirmed that British Airways staff have voted to back the furlough deal that will see thousands paid 80% of their wages during the coronavirus shutdown.

Employees of British Airways have overwhelmingly voted to approve the deal negotiated by Unite last week to furlough the airline’s workers and preserve their employment.

Unite said that its members backed the deal by 99%, following negotiations between the union and the airline following the cancellation of flights because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two sides agreed a modified version of the Government’s job retention scheme, which will see workers furloughed on 80% of their pay, but with no cap on their earnings. The Government scheme only pays up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Unite confirmed that workers will also be able to temporarily divert their pension contributions into their pay, and there will be no unpaid temporary lay-offs or redundancies.

Howard Beckett, Unite general secretary, 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 news came as Unite also confirmed furlough deals with major employers Rolls Royce, Faurecia and Kuehne + Nagel.

The Rolls Royce deal will see a 10% pay delay which will be paid back during the next financial year, starting in April 2021. The delay applies to Rolls-Royce’s global workforce, and non-essential workers will be furloughed on full pay over the next three weeks.

Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, Paresh Patel said:

“Rolls-Royce is the jewel in the East Midlands manufacturing crown and we need to secure the future of the aerospace sector within the regional economy and beyond. We have also to safeguard the supply chain, employing thousands of workers, which is heavily reliant on Rolls Royce.

“Unite continues to make the case to government of the importance of the UK’s manufacturing base and the need to protect firms and their workforces at this exceptionally difficult time for the economy.”

Meanwhile, Staffordshire company Faurecia Interiors announced that its workers will be registered under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and receive 80% of their wages while furloughed.

Unite welcomed the move, and called on the company to continue to pay their workers until the Government support comes through.

Unite regional officer Melvyn Palmer said:

“Unite welcomes Faurecia’s decision to register its workers under the government’s job retention scheme. Faurecia’s workforce will no doubt be relieved that they have one less thing to worry about during these troubling times.

“Faurecia’s management must now pay workers as normal until the funds from the job retention scheme come through. It is imperative that companies which are closed during the lockdown register their staff under the job retention scheme.

“Employers must also communicate the fact that they are doing so to their workers, who will naturally be concerned about paying the bills and putting food on the table when the economy has ground to a halt.”

Finally, following negotiations with Unite, transport and logistics company Kuehne + Nagel announced their furloughed workers will receive 100% of their wages if they earn under £20,000 per year, and 90% if they earn under £30,000. Under the scheme, workers will receive 80% of their wages from the government, with Kuehne + Nagel topping up the remainder.

A sliding scale will be used by Kuehne + Nagel to top up the wages of employees earning between £30,000 and £40,000 per year, with workers who full into this bracket receiving an average of 86% of their wages.

The furlough deal is especially important for staff working in Kuehne + Nagel’s food and drink logistics operations, where Unite has about 6,500 members, as deliveries to restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels across the UK have ceased during the lockdown.

Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture Joe Clarke said:

“This is an excellent deal for our members at Kuehne + Nagel and indeed for all of the company’s employees. Kuehne + Nagel staff, while still facing some wage reductions, can rest assured that they will be able to afford to pay their bills and feed their families during the lockdown.

“For those who still want to work and earn 100% of their wages, the company is offering them the opportunity to move onto contracts that are still operational. Over the past two weeks, Unite has worked closely with Kuehne + Nagel to get this furlough deal through. Other companies should take the lead from Kuehne + Nagel and make sure their staff are equally well looked after during this crisis.”


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