Last week, I wrote about a plan from British Airways to fire all flight attendants and re-hire many at drastically reduced wages. While British Airways continues to deny this is the plan, cabin staff fears were not unfounded.
What British Airways Told Cabin Staff
A British Airways flight attendant, confirmed by several of her colleagues, posted on Facebook that BA planned to make all cabin staff redundant on June 15th, then would re-hire up to 75% under a single new contract. For senior flight attendants, such action would represent a huge decrease in wages.
At the time, British Airways refused to confirm that was its attention, but also would not deny it:
“We are acting now to protect as many jobs possible. The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy.
“We are committed to consulting openly with our unions and our people as we prepare for a new future.”
British Airways insists that steep job cuts are not the plan, telling the BBC that it simply wants to talk with unions and is “only” considering terminating 12,000 total employees (not just flight attendants).
But on April 28, BA issued a “Section 188” notice to employees that included the following warning:
“We are hoping to reach agreement with you about these proposals, but if that is not possible (and we were unable to implement these proposals by relying on the reasonable changes clause in an employee’s contract), we are proposing to give employees notice of termination and offer them new terms and conditions of employment.”
That looks pretty clear to me…
Section 188 is a provision of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act of 1992 which requires consultation with unions before 20 or more employees are made redundant.
Unions are wary of bad intentions, particularly Unite, the union which represents British Airways cabin crew. Unite General Secretary Len McClusky said:
“BA is using this health crisis as cover to impose a long-term plan to slash jobs, pay and conditions. No other employer has threatened to effectively ‘fire and rehire’ its entire workforce.”
It is hard to argue otherwise. Whether or not this is permissible or wise is another question. But fear from BA cabin staff seem very justified to me.
image: British Airways