British Airways has issued a controversial ‘fire and rehire’ notice to its entire pilot workforce, threatening to sack every single pilot unless an agreement on new terms and conditions can be reached with the BALPA pilots union. Commenting on the news, Brian Strutton, the general secretary of the union said he was “appalled” at what he described as “the cavalier attitude” of the airline.
Strutton claimed the decision to issue the updated redundancy notice with the added ‘fire and rehire’ clause: “Calls into question whether BA is even capable of conducting industrial relations properly and whether anything they say can be trusted.”
British Airways is looking to axe thousands of jobs as the airline navigates the Corona crisis, although a spokesperson points out that no final decisions have yet been made. The airline argues that it is witnessing the biggest structural change to have ever hit the airline industry and must take urgent action now in order to survive and weather the COVID-19 storm.
Critics have hit out at BA’s plans to push through sweeping changes to terms and conditions as part of an ongoing consultation over the redundancies that could see the wages of some employees plummet by as much as 70 per cent.
The ‘fire and rehire’ clause has so enraged the two unions that represent cabin crew and ground staff that they have so far refused to negotiate or meet with British Airways over the proposals. BA chief executive Alex Cruz said the unions had been invited to over 165 meetings and in contrast, the airline had been “working constructively” with the BALPA pilots union.
Strutton now says those talks “hang by a thread”.
British Airways told the pilots union on Wednesday that it now wants to lay-off a total of 1,080 pilots – up from a previous figure of 955. A further 175 jobs could be lost as a result of “efficiency savings”. As of October 2019, British Airways employed a total of 3,900 flight crew.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement then British Airways will sack the entire pilot workforce and offer new, less desirable contracts to selected pilots. The legal consultation process will end on July 18.
“We cannot begin to describe the level of disappointment and annoyance this has caused,” a union memo told pilots at the airline.
Despite that annoyance, however, BALPA says it will continue to engage with the airline. Top of the agenda is an enhanced voluntary redundancy package that will hopefully reduce the number of forced layoff’s. The airline has previously told cabin crew and ground staff that it has no money to offer a voluntary redundancy package above legal minimums.
British Airways plans to lay-off up to 12,000 cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and office workers after a consultation period ends on June 15. The airline has faced a barrage of criticism for the way it has handled the crisis with several trade unions and an increasing number of lawmakers accusing BA of “betraying Britain”
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.