BA's short-termism causing havoc in UK aviation as Unite urges airline to drop opportunistic ‘fire and rehire’ scheme

Responding to British Airways' quarterly results issued today (Friday 31 July), Unite general secretary Len McCluskey urged the company to step back from its opportunistic ‘fire and rehire’ plans, which could send thousands of dedicated employees to the dole queue.

Len McCluskey said: “There can be no doubt that this crisis is having a profound impact on the aviation sector.

"But as Willie Walsh himself revealed today, there is clear light at the end of this tunnel, with BA looking to recover gradually starting now and with full health restored in around two to three years. 

"Given this, we say again to Mr Walsh that there is evidently no need to embark on this drastic course of fire and rehire, ripping up the contracts of 42,000 workers, raiding the wages of staff, and sending 12,000 loyal workers to the dole queue.

"No other employer in the aviation sector is pursuing this course of industrial vandalism. Competitor airlines are taking a responsible longer-term view, bringing their workforces with them through short-term wage cuts and pledges to return wages to pre-Covid levels at the earliest opportunity. 

"BA is fortunate. Its parent company can afford to make better choices. It has billions in the bank and even plans to expand by purchasing another airline, Air Europa, which is hardly the act of a business on its knees.

"It has also chosen not to attack the workforces of the other airlines in its group such as Iberia and Aer Lingus. We cannot therefore see its assault on the workers of BA as anything other than a deliberate and opportunistic decision to reshape the airline for the financial benefit of the boardroom.

"IAG has to accept that its decisions have consequences. Slashing its UK workforce by 30 percent when there are alternative routes open to the company is not consistent with its responsibilities as the national carrier, which is why it is only correct that over 170 MPs are saying that BA cannot hang onto lucrative slots at Heathrow and elsewhere. Slots should go to those airlines dedicated to investing and growing in this country.

"Again, we urge BA and Willie Walsh to step back from this needless and destructive course of action. This airline has built its phenomenal wealth and power on the hard work and dedication of its staff and the loyalty of its customers. Willie Walsh and Alex Cruz are trashing both along with a once great airline, causing havoc right across the aviation sector. This is irresponsible and unnecessary and Unite will do all we can to prevent it."