Trade unions Unite and GMB have released details of the deal struck with British Airways to protect workers during the coronavirus crisis.
British Airways has agreed that there will be no redundancies during the coronavirus crisis and confirmed it will furlough its staff, according to the Unite union.
The airline had been in talks to suspend 36,000 cabin crew, ground staff and engineers, but will now look to implement a modified version of the government’s job retention scheme so that workers will be furloughed on 80% of pay.
Unlike the government’s scheme – which caps salary payments to a maximum of £2,500 per month – BA’s scheme has no cap on monthly earnings. Workers will also have the option to divert their pension contributions into their take-home pay for a short period.
The announcement comes just days after Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett released a video stating the union was fighting for its members in the aviation industry.
Announcing the result of the BA negotiations, Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said:
“Given the incredibly difficult circumstances that the entire aviation sector is facing this is as good a deal as possible for our members.
“The deal protects the jobs of BA staff and, as far as possible, also protects their pay.
“This is what can and should be done to protect workers during this unprecedented time for the airline sector.”
The details of the deal will now be sent to Unite’s members for their final approval.
The GMB union were also involved in the negotiations, as many of their members are BA employees. GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said:
“GMB members working for BA are relieved to finally be nearing some sort of certainty after what has been an extremely worrying time.
“GMB was at the forefront of campaigning for the people’s bailout package which has formed the basis of ongoing negotiations with BA.”
The new deal comes after BA had previously cancelled all services at Gatwick and London city airports as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A spokesman from BA said:
“Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.
“But with the challenges of Coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them.”
International Airlines Group, BA’s parent company, previously said that its capacity would be down 75% in April and May compared with the same period last year.
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz also told staff last month that jobs would be lost “perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer-term” and that the company was in discussions with trade unions.
He warned that the airline was in a battle for survival amid a crisis “of global proportions like no other we have known”, saying it was more serious than the 2008 financial crisis, SARS or 9/11.