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British Airways Set to Furlough 36,000 Staff But There Won’t Be Any Redundancies

British Airways Set to Furlough 36,000 Staff But There Won’t Be Any Redundancies

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British Airways is set to announce plans to temporarily furlough 36,000 employees later today – around 80 per cent of the Heathrow-based airline’s total workforce. Crucially, however, the current plan negotiated with trade unions would mean no one will lose their job in a desperate cost-cutting frenzy to deal with the fall out from the COVID-19 crisis.

While many airlines have already announced plans to furlough their staff – including the likes of Virgin Atlantic and easyJet – negotiations with BA have taken longer than expected because of a desire by the airline to cut its headcount according to sources.

Photo Credit: British Airways

British Airways currently employs workers in a variety of contracts – some of the older contracts are considerably more generous than what newer employees enjoy while doing the same work. It’s understood that BA was looking to use Force Majeure as a reason to cull numbers.

However, with the deal set to be approved later today, managers at the airline will agree not to make anyone redundant and to leave terms and conditions intact. Instead, the airline will take advantage of a special Coronavirus job retention scheme announced by the British government several weeks ago.

Under the scheme, the taxpayer will foot 80 per cent of wages for any employee temporarily furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis. Sticking points were how British Airways calculated the wage and whether pension contributions and other allowances would make up part of the wages.

The ‘job retention scheme’ is similar to short-time working, a popular job-saving process utilised in several countries across Europe. Lufthansa has already agreed a short time working contract with many of its employees in which the German government will pick up 90 per cent of their wages.

A spokesperson for the airline, however, wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the deal and simply told us: “Talks continue”.

Several weeks ago, British Airways chief executive Alex Crux wrote to employees in a note titled “the survival of British Airways’. Cruz warned staffers that redundancies would be necessary and put employees across all departments on notice of possible layoffs.

Staff will apparently share out periods of being grounded, with workers going on furlough for a month and then returning to work for two weeks.

At Gatwick and London City airport’s the suspension will affect 100 per cent of staff after the airline suspended all operations at both airports. Staff will have until April 15 to approve the deal according to sources in The Sun.

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