Nearly 30,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the British government to refuse a bailout to embattled low-cost airline easyJet unless it retracts a threat to slash workers benefits and conditions. easyJet has demanded cabin crew take at least three months of unpaid leave and accept a slew of other changes as part of drastic cost-cutting measures just days after it announced a £174 million dividend payout to shareholders would go ahead as planned.
Peter Bellew, the airline’s new chief operations officer has proposed a raft of changes including the removal of staff benefits, in-flight crew food, agreed roster patterns and “a complete decimation of current working conditions”. The changes would take effect immediately and would last until at least November 2021.
Bellew recently moved to easyJet after a short period at rival low-cost airline Ryanair. During his tenure at the Irish discounter, Bellew had an uneasy relationship with chief executive Michael O’Leary who accused him of underperforming. The revelations were made public in a recent court case when Ryanair tried to block Bellew moving to easyJet.
Both Bellew and easyJet’s chief executive, Johan Lungdren have agreed to a three-month pay cut of just 20 per cent in basic wages.
easyJet is currently seeking a huge taxpayer-funded bailout despite paying out £174 million in dividends to shareholders, including £60 million to founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. While staff have been asked to take massive pay cuts, there has been no such request for investors to help out the business.
In a move to calm tensions, Bellew has proposed a revised offer that would see cabin crew forced to take two months of unpaid leave. Negotiations between the airline and union continue and no agreement has yet been reached.
Earlier this week, the Unite union was forced to deny allegations that it was pushing for redundancies rather than unpaid leave. “Peter Bellew is deliberately misleading his investors and his employees with such statements,” the union explained.
“Unite has asked the company to explore a range of cost-saving options including the possibility of offering voluntary redundancies,” a statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.