We know that the drastic cuts proposed by the British Airways Management Committee will have a negative impact on each group of BA workers, no matter where we are located or the job we do. But each group has its own issues.
Here we lay out just some of the ways in which the proposals impact on us and why we should not be talking to management, unless it is collectively through the Union and as part of meaningful consultation.
What does this mean for us in Mixed Fleet?
A fleet that’s nearly 10 years old but already has so much history’. We recognise just how much we could stand to lose in the way of pay and terms and conditions with these current proposals.
Every achievement that has been hard fought for over the past decade, all simultaneously at risk for the purpose of corporate greed.
If the proposals stand will we lose the gains we have achieved over ten years?
Yes. If we accept the proposals, we will lose ten years of progress. We will be back on the breadline barely earning enough to get by month on month with no work-life balance. It was only three short years ago that we took the longest industrial action in aviation history, lasting 85 days just to get onto a liveable wage.
Also, prior to COVID-19 the branch had made significant progress on the all-important scheduling agreement and CSM barging rights and these proposals would bring an end to these possibilities in their current form.
How much money will I lose?
Under the proposals, pay will be reduced back to 2012 levels, meaning Mixed Fleet crew will be looking at a reduction of pay of up to £10,000 or more depending on time served and rank within the fleet. For some this may mean a return to tax credits and HMRC audits to ensure pay is above the minimum wage as the case at the beginning of the fleet. This cannot be acceptable with the company sitting on billions in cash and assets and receiving public money.
Looking at average pay for cabin crew across the aviation industry it would seem that even our low-cost competitors are earning £1,800 on average per month as main crew at their respective companies and fleets. British airways, the flag carrier, is now proposing less than easyJet did 10 years ago after saying in December 2019 that its Mixed Fleet crew are currently paid at market rate. Moving to anything below this would mean that they are underpaying their workforce according to their own data.
Will these proposals affect my work-life balance?
Yes. These proposals will affect all aspects of your life, including the ability to maintain your current lifestyle and household expenditure. The proposed changes to introduce more flexible rostering practices will significantly impact your ability to achieve a work like balance. The proposal includes changes to rostering patterns that will see a reduction of days off during the peak schedule, as well inferring reduced trip patterns in keeping with the regulatory body minimums. A perfect example of this would be a 4-day SCL. A 14-15- hour flight with only 31 hours in the hotel before flying back home again which only changed to a 5-day trip minimum just over 18 months ago.
Why shouldn’t we talk to management now?
Walking into the room now with the precedent set by BA would not set the tone for meaningful engagement or allow your reps to put forward counter proposals and suggestions to avoid / reduce and mitigate redundancies that would genuinely be considered. This is because there is already a pre- determined outcome and we will not provide the rubber stamp to allow BA to push forward with these unfair proposals. BA wants to divide us so we must remain as a collective to prevent them from achieving their ‘fire and rehire’ objective.
Is BA doing anything different from other employers?
Yes. Unite negotiates with over 38,000 employers and not one of them has acted so opportunistically in the midst of Covid-19. BA are the only company who chose to issue formal notices ahead of any informal discussions taking place, this is a particularly important point given that there is already a redeployment agreement in place. There is a distinct lack of respect and empathy for their entire workforce, which includes Mixed Fleet.
Across the industry there has been many examples of companies working with Unite in coming to agreements that have led to no or minimum redundancies. For some reason BA seem to believe they are above such a joint effort in facing this challenge.
Are labour costs a real problem for BA?
No, people are not the problem. In 2019 workers were responsible for less than one quarter of BA’s costs. In addition to this the Mixed Fleet model is already cost competitive as proven by the recent market rate review conducted in December 2019.
Fuel is traditionally BA’s most expensive outgoing and is now far less expensive than it was before the crisis.
Can BA afford to keep people on?
Yes, BA will not go bust and they can afford to keep on their staff without permanently cutting wages. It is worth remembering that BA creates 68.3% of the operating profit for IAG:
- BA was making massive profits prior to the crisis with an operating profit of £1,921m in 2019 alone and has substantial reserves of £2.6bn and shareholder equity £5.8bn that would likely be sufficient to weather the storm until the end of 2021.
- BA have also accessed £300 million from the UK’s Covid-19 finance facility and the owners IAG have accessed €1 billion from the Spanish Government.
Has BA been paying billions to shareholders?
The owners of BA have been paying on average £446 million per year over the last five years in dividends to their shareholders. We could end up with the grotesque spectacle of British jobs being sacrificed to help safeguard pay-outs to firms including one ultimately controlled by the Qatar Royal Family.
What does Unite want from British Airways?
- Withdraw the Section 188 notice and threat of dismissal.
- Negotiate in good faith with Unite.
- Agree for any proposed changes to pay, terms and conditions to be temporary and to be returned in line with increased revenue.