12:35PM, Friday 05 June 2020
As we continue to move out of lockdown and ease restrictions, we must ensure that the workers who have selflessly seen us through the worst of this crisis continue to receive the support they need and deserve. That is why this week I have been focusing my attention on the situation surrounding British Airways employees.
As the situation has dragged on I continue to be dismayed and disappointed by the behaviour of British Airways. Their proposals to make 12,000 employees redundant will have a profound impact upon staff who have done so much for their country through repatriation flights and returning stranded Britons home.
Additionally, for a company with such substantial financial reserves, this decision seems totally unnecessary. Whilst it would be wrong for the Government to directly interfere with the operations of a private business, I would urge BA to not prematurely end the consultation over job cuts, and instead wait until after summer once we get a better idea of what the long term picture of aviation will look like.
Throughout the crisis BA has made substantial use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The purpose behind this scheme was to allow employers to retain employees in an unpredictable climate. Now that we know more and can begin to plan for life to resume after lockdown, it seems wrong that BA has utilised this government assistance to simultaneously enforce changes to employees’ terms of service.
One could therefore be forgiven to think that BA is taking advantage of the pandemic to strengthen its financial position to the detriment of its hardworking and faithful employees. This can be made all the more apparent by the fact that the furlough scheme has been extended by the Chancellor to October, giving BA no excuse for imposing these unfair changes to their staff. Employees are left with a choice of finding themselves redundant or having a job with a severe pay cut.
So far, I have held meetings with BA employees, fellow like-minded MPs from across the House of Commons, the relevant ministers, and I have asked an urgent question in the Chamber.
I sincerely hope that BA listens to their employees, local leaders, MPs and the Government, and pledges to secure the security and livelihoods of their staff.