Friday, 21 August 2020

The fight goes on for British Airways staff - including a call for strike action

A small number of British Airways ground staff and cabin crew held a meeting near Heathrow and promised to keep up the fight `all the way' against the mass job losses at the legacy carrier.  They also called for strike action in the battle over jobs, wages and redundancy pay.

At a gathering of over 1000 BA cabin crew, ground and other staff held on Thursday near the airport, furious workers instructed their union, Unite, to proceed to widespread industrial and legal action against their employer.  Crew, ground staff and other workers across the airline are furious that while they are losing their jobs and potentially 43 per cent of their earnings, management is untouched by the attacks on pay and conditions.  

In a drastic move by the airline,  it has told employees that should they be offered a place back at the airline going forward, they will find themselves on zero hours-type contracts. These contracts would give the reemployed staff no stability or security.

Unite has warned BA that its conduct has left it exposed to strikes and continuous litigation as the airline has forced thousands to accept 'voluntary redundancies' only to change the terms of that offer leaving workers potentially thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Not content with its aggressive `fire and rehire' and redundancy plans which will see over 10,000 workers lose their jobs by September with the rest retained on far inferior pay and conditions, BA has now moved to force through zero-hours type contracts and is refusing to honour a long-standing redundancy agreement. 

Commenting after the mass meeting held at Bedfont FC, Unite's assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "British Airways is reaping what it has sowed.  It's systematic, brutal and needless attacks on its workforce will see it inevitably faced with strikes in the autumn along with the persistent threat of disruption through widespread legal action.

"This workforce was absolutely clear today; this fight will go all the way and it will last until BA stops behaving like an abusive Victorian mill owner.

"This is the twenty-first century yet Willie Walsh insists on treating skilled workers like trash with no control over when they will work or what they will earn.

"With a new airline set to be purchased and managers getting a free pass in this so-called crisis, the idea that this is a business in trouble is a lie.

"Enough is enough.  We will now instruct our legal specialists to proceed to industrial and legal action, which will hit BA in the autumn.  BA has given these workers no other choice but with Unite by their side, we will fight this all the way."

Oliver Richardson, Unite's national officer for civil aviation added:  "BA's behaviour is inhumane but it is made worse because it is also needless.  This business is sitting on billions, built on the hard graft of the very workforce that the airline is hellbent on treating so abysmally.

"In his haste to use the opportunity of this crisis to fulfil his long-standing desire of reshaping BA as  a low-cost carrier but with higher prices and ever fatter rewards for the boardroom, Mr Walsh has overlooked the pride that this workforce feel about the service that they provide BA passengers.  They are determined to prevent him from finally destroying this once-great airline and we support them all the way.

"He has pushed this workforce to a place where they have nothing to lose, where trust and hope have been destroyed.  That is a very dangerous place for a business to be." 

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