British Airways’ parent company IAG yesterday announced plans to make up to 12,000 workers redundant due to the coronavirus crisis.
Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey has today denounced British Airways’ decision to make 12,000 staff redundant as “unlawful and immoral”, and warned that BA’s move undermines the work of the union and airlines to help secure government aid for the entire aviation industry.
The sheer scale of the job losses, which accounts for a quarter of the airline’s workforce, will also make the already fragile UK aviation sector even more unstable – putting many more jobs across the country at risk, according to McCluskey, who described their actions as “selfish”.
In a statement announcing the news, IAG said:
The proposals remain subject to consultation, but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.
Alongside the parent company’s statement, BA chief executive Alex Cruz wrote in a letter to staff:
In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history.
We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely… We will see some airlines go out of business.
However, Unite’s response to the move has been damning, with Len McCluskey saying:
BA’s decision to ignore the principle and intent of the job retention scheme and instead throw 12,000 workers onto the scrap heap is both unlawful and immoral.
It is unlawful because they are denying these workers the meaningful consultation that the law and common decency says that they are owed.
It is immoral because BA has been taking taxpayers’ money in recent weeks, money supplied on the proviso that the company put the workers on furlough while the industry reshaped.
Instead, BA has taken a unilateral and selfish action that could imperil an already very fragile aviation industry – and so a great many jobs – in this country.
UK taxpayers have not handed over their money to BA for it to embark on an opportunistic course of slashing jobs, conditions and wages, and potentially jeopardising jobs right across the aviation sector.
BA built its reputation on being the “world’s favourite airline” but by pursuing this needlessly drastic course it risks becoming better known as the destroyer of UK jobs and aviation.
We say to BA that there is a better way forward for both it and the industry. We urge it to think again.
I therefore call on BA to honour the law, remove this threat of redundancy today and join with us to work with the government and aviation industry to deliver the rescue package so desperately needed by the whole sector.
Meanwhile, Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett was even more scathing – criticising British Airway’s insensitivity and their lack of consultation with the union. In a Tweet posted immediately after the news, Mr Beckett said:
Unite’s BA community today buried a much loved colleague who died from Coronavirus.
BA made no mention of Workers Memorial Day today or the loss of life of this brave,loyal young man.
Instead they announced 12k job losses without so much as a conversation with our reps.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) April 28, 2020
British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), announced the job losses yesterday and said it needed to impose a “restructuring and redundancy programme” until the demand for air travel returns to pre-COVID levels.
Echoing Unite’s response, the pilots’ union Balpa (British Airline Pilots Association) said it was “devastated” at the news and vowed to fight “every single” job loss.