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British Airways Cabin Crew Vote to be Furloughed But What About the Crew Who Still Have to Work?

British Airways Cabin Crew Vote to be Furloughed But What About the Crew Who Still Have to Work?

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British Airways cabin crew and other workers including gate agents, check-in staff and baggage handlers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of being furloughed during the Coronavirus crisis, including 99 per cent of cabin crew who backed the measures. Under a special government employee retention scheme, workers who are furloughed will be paid 80 per cent of their wages during the next few months.

The Unite union which negotiated the deal on behalf of nearly 17,000 cabin crew at the airline described the “long” talks as difficult and hard-fought after BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz first warned there would be redundancies across many departments.

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Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

British Airways has agreed not to make anyone redundant until at least the start of June when the furlough scheme is currently set to run until. Dependent on how the COVID-19 epidemic is progressing both in the United Kingdom and around the world, the multi-billion-pound job retention payouts may be extended to a later date.

Around 80 per cent of staffers at the airline have already been sent home on furlough and won’t be expected to return to work until at least the start of June. British Airways has completely shuttered its operations at Gatwick and London City airport but some flights are continuing to run from Heathrow, especially repatriation flights bringing stranded Brits back home from overseas.

So what of the cabin crew and ground staff who haven’t be furloughed? Many airlines have implemented volunteer programmes to operate their repatriation services but BA cabin crew have complained of a ‘Russian Roulette’ lottery system of deciding who was furloughed and who was expected to continue working flights.

Cabin crew have told media outlets of having “sleepless nights” and being “sick with worry” over the seemingly random way in which crew were assigned their position within the company.

Some crew apparently volunteered to work but were nevertheless put on furlough. Others told the airline about medical conditions or other personal circumstances that made them vulnerable or their family to COVID-19 but have nonetheless being made to continue operating flights.

And some crew have even said they expect to earn less money than their colleagues who have been furloughed. That’s because cabin crew earn much of their wages through allowances that are accrued for working a flight – but even with significantly fewer crew, there still aren’t many flights operating.

British Airways have so far declined to comment.