British Airways has been blasted by the Unite Union after the airline announced plans to hire as many 3,000 new cabin crew in time for what is expected to be a bumper summer season next year
But rather than welcoming the news that the airline was creating more jobs, Unite said it was “yet another attempt to drive down pay and conditions for workers at the airline”.
“Last summer, British Airways became the first major employer to embark on the abhorrent practice of ‘fire and rehire’, sacking thousands of dedicated staff,” blasted Unite general secretary Sharon Graham after the news was leaked.
“Now, fewer than 12 months later BA is championing its intention to recruit thousands of new staff, insultingly even asking those crew it sacked needlessly last year to re-apply on substantially reduced terms and conditions.”
From the outset of the pandemic, British Airways warned that it would have to substantially reduce its workforce “permanently” for what it warned would be a years-long recovery. The only way for BA to survive, the airline claimed, was by slashing pay and conditions for longer-serving staff.
British Airways told relatively well-paid staff to accept new contracts or face being sacked. They would then be rehired on substantially lower wages. The term ‘fire and rehire’ was coined for the practice and resulted in criticism from the airline from lawmakers, frequent flyers and the media.
In the end, British Airways relented and negotiated a compromise deal with Unite that still saw some cabin crew wages plummet by as much as 35 per cent. At the same time, many cabin crew decided to leave the airline voluntarily. They have now been invited to apply for their old jobs back but on much lower pay.
Once BA’s ‘talent pool’ of ex-crew has been exhausted, the airline will then start recruiting externally.
Graham warns that at the same time as lauding a new recruitment drive, British Airways is refusing to remove a threat of making existing staff redundant in the run-up to Christmas.
“BA staff have no idea if they will have a job or a wage at the end of the year. This insecurity is deplorable. It must be removed,” Graham continued.
“This is an exciting time for British Airways and our customers as we see borders re-opening,” commented BA’s Director of Network and Alliances Neil Chernoff on Wednesday as the airline announced plans to return some Airbus A380 superjumbos into service.
“With welcome news from the US, we are dramatically increasing flights and bringing home some of our A380s to give our customers as many options as possible,” Chernoff continued.
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.