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British Airways Reaches Tentative Deal With Pilots Union to Significantly Reduce Job Losses

British Airways Reaches Tentative Deal With Pilots Union to Significantly Reduce Job Losses

Photo Credit: British Airways

British Airways has reached a tentative deal over pay, conditions and job losses with the BALPA pilots union after more than three months of negotiations that at times had “hung by a thread” . The union has urged pilots, who will now get the opportunity to vote on the proposal, to accept the deal after British Airways stepped back from a controversial threat to ‘fire and rehire’ pilots on new conditions.

The innovative proposal asks pilots to take temporary pay cuts in order to avoid mass lay-offs. British Airways had warned of the potential to make as many as 1,255 pilots redundant but the new plan reduces that number to just 270 involuntary lay-offs. The airline currently employs around 4,300 pilots.

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Photo Credit: British Airways

A further 300 pilots will be placed into a ‘holding pool’ and will be paid a reduced wage until demand picks up and they can return to work. Pilots of the Boeing 747, which is being retired immediately by British Airways, are said to make up the bulk of this holding pool.

That measure will be funded by pilots taking an initial 20 per cent pay cut, which will reduce down to 8 per cent within two years and eventually to zero over the longer term. BALPA said in a statement released late on Wednesday night that the deal was “the best that can be achieved in these incredibly difficult circumstances”.

Further measures to stave off involuntary redundancies include part-time working, secondments to the Royal Air Force and a voluntary severance package. Brian Strutton, secretary of BALPA remains critical of British Airways but said he hoped to reduce the number of forced lay-off even further with increased uptake of an early-out package.

“It is hugely disappointing that during our extensive negotiations British Airways would not accept the full package of mitigations we put forward which would have avoided any job losses at all, and at no cost to BA,” he said on Wednesday night.

“As a result, there will be some compulsory redundancies amongst the pilot community and that is a matter of huge regret. Given BA’s intransigence we have put together the best package we can to save as many jobs as possible,” Strutton explained.

British Airways was labelled a “national disgrace” by an influential group of lawmakers over its treatment of workers stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. British Airways rejected the report, saying it was doing everything possible to reduce or mitigate the number of job losses and had to take action to secure the future of the airline in the face of the biggest structural change to have ever faced the industry.

After months of refusing to even negotiate with the airline, unions that represent cabin crew and some ground staff are now holding urgent talks with BA management. Some cabin crew could face pay cuts of over 50 per cent under the proposals put forward by British Airways.

The airline has also suggested cabin crew take at least a month of unpaid leave in order to save “many hundreds of jobs”.

Pilots will have until July 30 to cast their vote.

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