British Airways issues fire and rehiring warning to 4,000 pilots unless they agree to new terms and conditions

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British Airways has issued a controversial “layoff and rehire” notice to all of its pilot crews, threatening to fire each pilot unless an agreement on new terms and conditions can be reached with the BALPA pilots union. Commenting on the news, Brian Strutton, the union’s general secretary, said he was “dismayed” by what he described as the airline’s “cavalier attitude”.

Strutton has claimed the decision to issue the updated notice of termination with the additional “fire and rehiring” clause: “Question whether BA is even capable of properly conducting industrial relations and if all that they say can be trusted. “

Photo credit: British Airways

British Airways is looking to cut thousands of jobs as the airline crosses the Corona crisis, although a spokesperson said no final decision has yet been made. The airline says it is witnessing the biggest structural change in the airline industry ever and must take urgent action now to survive and weather the COVID-19 storm.

Critics have denounced BA’s plans to impose sweeping changes to terms and conditions as part of an ongoing layoff consultation, which could see the wages of some employees fall by 70%.

The fire and rehiring clause has so enraged the two unions representing 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 more than 165 meetings and that the airline had, however, “worked constructively” with the BALPA pilots’ union.

Strutton now says that these talks “are hanging on a thread.”

British Airways told the pilots’ union on Wednesday that it now wants to fire a total of 1,080 pilots, up from 955 previously. Another 175 jobs could be lost due to “efficiency savings”. In October 2019, British Airways employed a total of 3,900 flight crew members.

If the two parties fail to reach an agreement, British Airways will fire the entire pilot workforce and offer new, less desirable contracts to the 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 note told the airline pilots.

Despite the inconvenience, however, BALPA says it will continue to work with the airline. The agenda is an improved voluntary layoff program which will hopefully reduce the number of forced dismissals. The airline has already told cabin crew and ground staff that it has no money to offer a voluntary layoff plan above the legal minimums.

British Airways plans to fire up to 12,000 cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and office workers after the consultation period ends on June 15. The airline faced a barrage of criticism for the way it handled the crisis with several unions and a growing number of legislators accusing BA of “betraying Britain”



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