The union head representing British Airways cabin crew sent a blistering attack note to British Airways CEO Alex Cruz. Not only does he threaten industrial action, but he attacks Cruz in a particularly personal way. Will his attention-grabbing note help in any way or just make the matter worse?
Cruz Attacked As Labor Problems At British Airways Remain Unsolved
I’ve written often about the labor problems at British Airways since the pandemic began. While pilots have inked a deal they can grudgingly live with, cabin crew members remain without a deal and the threat of everyone losing their jobs still looms. British Airways has threatened to fire all cabin staff and hire back only a portion of them (in some cases at dramatically lower wages). That has led to public outrage and even talk of revoking some Heathrow slots given to British Airways by the UK when LHR first opened.
> Read More On British Airways’ Labor Woes:
- British Airways Prepares To Fire All Flight Attendants In Scheme To Slash Wages
- Why British Airways Cabin Staff Are So Afraid
- British Airways Seeks Vengeance Against Pilots
- Will UK Confiscate Heathrow Slots From British Airways?
- British Airways Called “National Disgrace” In Bipartisan Smackdown From Parliament
- British Airways CEO Alex Cruz Cries Crocodile Tears
The Full Note To British Airways CEO Alex Cruz
Here’s the note in full. I’ll share my thoughts after.
I am in receipt of your email dated 26 July and I am both staggered and offended by your arrogance.
In the opening paragraph you state “it has taken this long for you to realise and accept this”. This reference infers that I am only now understanding the financial difficulties that British Airways face. How dare you suggest such a thing. I have attempted for months to try to get you to understand the need to treat your workers with respect and dignity and this is the only way to get through this pandemic together. It is your staff, not you, that have for many years, built the good name of British Airways and contributed billions of pounds to its profitability year on year.
Your decision to adopt a scorched earth strategy with a ‘Fire and Rehire’ approach was always despicable. You and your management team have dragged the good name of British Airways through the mud. Have you ever asked yourself why so many MPs from all parties, at the highest level, have condemned British Airways or why newspaper and media outlets have been appalled at your actions? Perhaps you don’t understand that the British sense of ‘Fair Play’ runs deep in the psyche of the British people.
I am advised that no sooner are certain issues on process agreed then the company management renege on them, it beggars the question as to who is running the show – so much so that it is my intention to seek meetings with Antonio Vazquez Romero and IAG.
Also, please don’t insult me by asking “how many of my members I have spoken to?” When you know full well that you have received thousands of heartfelt emails from your staff that you have ignored and or deleted without even reading. My shop stewards and reps speak to members constantly, dealing with the stress, anxiety and heart ache caused by your management style and strategy. Instead of criticising Unite reps, you should actually listen to them, instead of pretending to do so in order that you can tick some consultative process box and you might, at long last, realise that the only way to have a lasting peace and avoid months/years of industrial unrest is to work with us to achieve an acceptable way forward.
You have now published a timetable to Fire and Rehire thousands of your workforce on 7 August, we will work every hour between now and then, to convince you not to do so.
You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect.
I Feel Your Pain…But Is This A Constructive Path?
McCluskey is clearly angry, and most can at least empathize with the uncomfortable position of uncertainty BA cabin staff find themselves in. Even by addressing Cruz as “Alex” is a bit of a dig, considering how formal British society remains. Telling your leader you are offended by his arrogance in the first line, may draw his attention, but I’m not sure it will make him receptive to your demands. The threat of strikes is also less of a credible threat during a time in which flight demand and schedules are severely depressed.
And yet McCluskey’s letter did not appear out of thin air. It comes as British Airways again threatens to move forward with its treat to fire all staff and rehire some early next month. It also comes in response to a rather sardonic note from Cruz to McCluskey.
Responding to McClusky’s note, British Airways said:
“It is disappointing that a company doing everything it can to save jobs is being singled out by Unite for national criticism, when jobs are being lost across the country in every industry.”
BA maintains it is doing what is necessary for survival and that more flight attendants will see pay raises than pay cuts under the proposed restructure plan (but concedes senior FAs could see pay drop by 40%).
McCluskey’s frustration is understandable, even if he was a bit blunter than I would have been. Yet as long as British Airways has most of its fleet grounded and sees no prospect of a quick rebound, I suspect his note will fall upon deaf ears.
(H/T: One Mile at a Time)