A long-serving and much-loved member of cabin crew for British Airways has gone missing after posting a “goodbye message” according to a senior union official representing staffers at the airline. The news comes just weeks after the Unite union warned some crew had become so fearful of losing everything after the threat of mass redundancies by British Airways that they had openly said their “only way out is to end it”.
British Airways intends to make a total of 12,000 employees redundant in less than four weeks and with just 45-days notice. At least 5,000 cabin crew will be affected and many of those who get to keep their jobs will be forced to take a 55 per cent pay cut.
The airline has promised to plough ahead with the lay-offs despite accepting a £500 million loan from the UK government and furloughing much of its workforce. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company has told a parliamentary select committee that he welcomed the government support but said plans to “throw 12,000 workers onto the scrap heap” would not be paused.
“Today one BA cabin crew member posted a video directed to Willie Walsh. She has suffered a breakdown and is in hospital,” Tweeted the Unite Union’s Assistant General Secretary for Politics & Legal, Howard Beckett on Monday evening.
“Another cabin crew lady posted a goodbye message and cannot be found. The police have been told,” Beckett continued, although he offered no other details. The allegations in the Tweet could not be independently verified.
“Lives destroyed for corporate greed. BA have £10bl in cash,” the Tweet concluded.
A senior British Airways source claimed Beckett had provided too few details for the airline to work out if the allegations were true or just merely a rumour, which in turn made it hard to reassure its employees or check on the welfare of individuals.
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for British Airways told us:
“We do not underestimate how difficult this period is for everyone, which is why every communication with our colleagues since the consultation has started has included guidance on options available to give support to anyone who needs it.”
“We provide a free, confidential 24-hour support service, plus the offer of counselling with health professionals, our own in-house medical team as well as a well-being app provided for all colleagues and extensive welfare advice on our intranet,” the statement continued.
Last week, the airline’s head of in-flight customer experience, Amy James outlined proposals to slash terms and conditions in a move that has been described as “smash and grab opportunism”.
James told cabin crew in the leaked video message that she was concerned about her staff wanting to “fight” to save their jobs and instead said her focus was on fighting to save the airline. While many staffers with more than 30-years service will be expected to take a 50 per cent pay cut, James highlighted benefits of the new contract including a cycle to work scheme and free uniform.
British Airways said the plans remain subject to consultation.
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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.