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British Airways Cabin Crew Say They’ll Take the Same Deal as Pilots… But it’s Not Being Offered

British Airways Cabin Crew Say They’ll Take the Same Deal as Pilots… But it’s Not Being Offered

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The head of the union that represents thousands of British Airways cabin crew says they would happily accept the same deal that the airline offered its pilots and which reduced the number of involuntary pilot redundancies by nearly 80 per cent. But Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union says BA has refused discussions on such a deal and is instead waging “industrial thuggery” against its cabin crew.

Pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal last week which will result in a temporary 20 per cent cut, reducing down to 8 per cent in two years time and eventually down to zero. The pay cut will help fund a holding pool of several hundred furloughed pilots who will be paid a much-reduced salary until they are invited back to work. Permanent job losses were slashed from an estimated 1,255 to just 270.

Photo Credit: British Airways

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today show on Monday, McCluskey accused British Airways of taking a very different approach with cabin crew. Thousands could be made redundant and many could see their wages permanently cut by as much as 50 per cent. Those who get to stay will be made to sign new contracts.

“We have said all along that BA’s boardroom had a wider agenda, which was to use this pandemic crisis to drive down the terms and conditions of crew and staff, with some losing over £20,000 from their salary, as part of a long-term ambition to reposition BA as a low-cost airline in all but name,” McCluskey said earlier today.

“BA is indulging in industrial thuggery. It should and could end this strife now,” he continued. “I say to Willie Walsh (chief executive of BA’s parent company), put the deal that you have agreed with pilots to the rest of the staff, and in doing so join with us as together we find a constructive and fair way through this crisis.”

British Airways claims no final decisions have yet been made, although it’s understood that cabin crew will find out if they are being laid-off on Friday. The airline says it has already offered to reduce the cut to the basic pay of higher-paid crew by 20 per cent and a plan to make cabin crew take unpaid leave will help save “many hundreds” of jobs.

Around 5,000 cabin crew jobs in total could be axed.

“The reality is that the pilots were never faced with the drastic ‘fire and rehire’ strategy that is being imposed on the overwhelming majority of the BA workforce,” McCluskey continued.

Last week, McCluskey wrote a scathing open letter to BA chief executive Alex Cruz, which described the airline’s plans as “despicable”. He warned that the union would move towards industrial strike action “with immediate effect” unless BA didn’t adjust its proposals.

Throughout the last few months, British Airways has maintained that it is consulting with unions in an effort to reduce and mitigate job losses. The airline was critical of the Unite union for initially refusing to take part in talks and instead waging a political and media campaign against it.

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