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Nearly 100% of 15,000 British Airways Staff Say They Have No Confidence in Airline’s Chief Executive

Nearly 100% of 15,000 British Airways Staff Say They Have No Confidence in Airline’s Chief Executive

An astonishing 99.2 per cent of British Airways employees say they have no confidence in the airline’s chief executive Alex Cruz over his handling of the Corona crisis in a poll of 15,000 staffers by the Unite union. The landslide result will heap further pressure on Cruz and British Airways who are facing a revolt over plans to sack 12,000 employees and drastically reduce the terms and conditions of employees who remain.

Like the entire aviation industry, British Airways is reeling from the devastating effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on travel demand as well as fast-changing border restrictions and travel bans that have grounded the majority of its fleet. The airline believes it may take several years for the industry to recover and says it is preparing to be a significantly smaller company for some time to come.

The chief executive of British Airways, Alex Cruz has already experienced one major cabin crew strike since taking on the role. Photo Credit: British Airways
The chief executive of British Airways, Alex Cruz has already experienced one major cabin crew strike since taking on the role. Photo Credit: British Airways

But both the Unite and GMB unions claim the airline is taking advantage of the Corona crisis to force through a longheld ambition to slash the terms and conditions of relatively well-paid employees. Some cabin crew, for example, say they face permanent pay cuts of around 50 per cent if the current proposals are pushed through. The unions want temporary solutions to what they see as a temporary problem.

The poll by the Unite union found that 99.1 per cent of its members have no confidence in the proposals that the airline has so far presented. British Airways says the proposals are open to consultation and that it is willing to work with unions to reduce or mitigate job losses.

The increasingly bitter dispute has led to unions refusing to negotiate with the airline (British Airways says it has invited elected representatives to over 165 meetings) and waging a high-profile media campaign accusing British Airways of “betraying Britain”.

That campaign has won the support of lawmakers from across the political spectrum and a recent report by a Parliamentary select committee branded British Airways a “national disgrace” over its handling of the crisis. The report acknowledged that job losses would likely be inevitable but said BA’s proposals fell “well below the standards we would expect of any employer”.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company said he “formally rejects” the findings of the report, while Cruz claimed the scathing report was based not on facts but “impassioned messages”. A legal consultation period on the proposals concluded on Monday but no job losses have yet been announced by the airline.

Last year, an internal survey of 17,000 British Airways staffers found just 57 per cent were proud to work for the airline. Only 36 per cent believed the airline was making the right changes for customers and just 17 per cent said their opinions were listened to. Less than a quarter of employees felt their contributions to the airline’s success were properly recognised.

British Airways has been contacted for comment.

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