THE GIANT Unite and GMB trade unions have greeted the news that British Airways is to make 12,000 workers redundant with shock, dismay and little else, despite the fact that the savage blow at BA workers was not unexpected.
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘This announcement will be felt as the stab in the back it undoubtedly is by the close knit BA family. We say to BA’s boss Alex Cruz that this is a heartless decision in a time of national crisis. With the majority of BA’s workers on furlough, we would have expected him to work with both us and the government to honour the spirit of the government’s job retention scheme.
‘Governments across Europe, in Spain, Germany and France are working with trade unions and airlines to rebuild back better, keeping people in work while the sector recovers. We simply cannot understand as to why Alex Cruz is not doing the same, unless he has sought an opportunity to see other airlines fail, so that BA can profit.’ He added: ‘Creating unemployment is a conscious choice by an employer, not an inevitability.’ He clearly does not understand capitalism and its ‘law of the jungle’!
The GMB said that ‘We don’t yet know the detail of the proposed cuts but if the 12,000 figure is accurate this will be a huge blow for our loyal members. We believed we had reached some relative, albeit temporary, respite for them following the agreement to furlough 80% of BA’s staff – now this.
‘I know our reps will work day and night to limit the impact on our members but 12,000 employees is a staggering number. All our efforts will be cut out into bringing that number down.’ The GMB is no longer opposed to all sackings. The pilots’ union Balpa was the only one of the three unions to show the slightest bit of fight.
Balpa’s general secretary Brian Strutton said: ‘This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the Covid storm and declined any government support. Balpa does not accept that a case has been made for these job losses and we will be fighting to save every single one.’
BA chief executive Alex Cruz wrote in a letter to staff: ‘In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history.
‘We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely. . . We will see some airlines go out of business.’
The airline industry is breaking apart under the hammer blows of the crisis of capitalism. BA’s parent company IAG has made a £307m loss in the first half of the year, it has no confidence in the Tory government or the banks. It is every man for himself.
In the UK, EasyJet has already laid off its 4,000 UK-based cabin crew for two months. And Sir Richard Branson has appealed to the government to help bail out his Virgin Atlantic airline with a loan thought to be up to £500m.
Airline industry bosses have urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend his job retention scheme beyond June, to put them on a permanent government subsidy. Aviation industry body Airlines UK meanwhile said airlines hit by coronavirus would face ‘a renewed cash crisis’ if the Sunak scheme were withdrawn prematurely.
However, the major banks are now in desperate crisis with massive unemployment ripping through the USA , whose shale oil miracle has come unstuck with oil being stored, not sold, after dropping to -1 dollar a barrel just a few weeks ago.
Barclays has now warned that the coronavirus pandemic could cost it some £2.1bn, with many of its customers going bankrupt. Its profits, for the first three months of 2020, dived 38% to £913m.
On Tuesday, rival lender HSBC reported a 50% fall in profits linked to the pandemic. Capitalism is tottering. The banks cannot save themselves no mind rescue governments and industries, and prop up trade union bureaucrats. It is every boss for himself!
The working class and its trade unions must use their strength, dump their leaders’ begging bowl, and call a general strike to defend jobs, wages and basic rights to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and a socialist planned economy.
This is the only way forward. Only the WRP fights for this revolutionary policy and perspective. Join it today to build a new revolutionary leadership in the trade unions to defend the jobs, wages and basic rights of the working class and the middle class with a socialist revolution to put an end to capitalism.