Wednesday, June 24, 2020
We Stand with British Airways Cabin Crew
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced airlines to manage an unprecedented drop in passenger demand, along with an ensuing decline in revenue. It is no secret that each airline has scrambled to cut costs by slashing flight schedules and reducing payroll.
Airline employees have seen hard times in the past. Blaming labor and extracting painful concessions has been a recurring theme. Despite assurances to the contrary, pay, benefit, work rule, and onboard staffing cuts failed to prevent the airlines from restructuring through the bankruptcy process, and labor Unions across the country and world still have not regained everything they have conceded.
In response to the steep drop-off in worldwide demand, British Airways has announced an overage of Cabin Crew at the airline due to a drastic cut in flight schedules, not unlike many of its industry competitors. Instead of attempting to manage the overage through leaves and other programs, British Airways intends to terminate employment – not only for the furloughed Cabin Crew but for Crew that was to remain employed. The plan is to bust pay and work rules negotiated in their current Union contract.
British Airways intends to re-interview and rehire those willing to return to work under drastically reduced pay and benefits- some estimates of the pay and benefits cuts exceed 50% of current salary. These are long term, loyal employees- many of whom have been with the airline for many years.
British Airways is looking to use the industry downturn associated with COVID-19 to gut Cabin Crew pay and working conditions.
Len McCluskey, leader of Unite the Union, the Union representing Cabin Crew at the airline, says, “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.”
Unite has worked to engage in sensible, fact-based negotiations with the airline, to no avail. An outline of the proposed talks from the Union to IAG, the parent company of British Airways, may be read here.
Today, airlines across the world are facing a demand problem, not a labor problem. APFA stands in full support with all British Airways Cabin Crew and Unite the Union sisters and brothers across the United Kingdom and around the world. American’s strong London / Heathrow presence relies on the outstanding customer service these Cabin Crew provide daily, as many of our passengers connect onward at Heathrow to destinations throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. We call on airline executives to do the right thing, and not use the current crisis as an opportunity to overreach in order to capitalize on permanent and painful pay, benefit and work rule reductions.
Unite the Union, we stand behind you, and beside you.
For more information, visit https://unitetheunion.org.
Paul Hartshorn, Jr.