ALEX Cruz, the author of the notorious BA ‘fire and rehire’ policy, has been sacked as chief executive and chair of British Airways with immediate effect, owner International Airlines Group said yesterday.
Aer Lingus chief Sean Doyle will replace Cruz as chief executive and take over as chair after a transition period, IAG said in a statement.
As the pandemic hit, Cruz proposed 12,000 job cuts and put a number of older employees on lower paid contracts.
Last month he told MPs that the airline expected unions to agree to new terms and conditions and told the Commons Transport Select Committee that the new terms were necessary because the airline was ‘fighting for its survival’.
His sacking prepares the way for even bigger attacks on the workforce.
However, the Unite union reacted to the sacking by calling on the incoming BA CEO Doyle to ‘begin a new chapter of constructive relations with staff and the unions.’
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: ‘It’s unsurprising that Alex Cruz has suddenly left British Airways. The handling of industrial relations through this crisis has been unnecessarily confrontational and at times heartless.
‘The harsh reality is that BA’s fire and rehire policy, exposed by Unite, caused untold and unnecessary misery to thousands of loyal employees. These brutal industrial practices has seen the reputation of BA damaged on an international scale.’
The union admitted: ‘It is only because of the dedicated work of Unite and in particular our shop stewards that widespread industrial action has been avoided so far.
‘We hope that the incoming CEO Sean Doyle will begin a new chapter of constructive relations with staff and unions, repair the reputation of the airline and boost the morale of staff. Unite stands ready to work with the new CEO.’
Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: ‘Although this change clearly represents a new chapter for British Airways, there is still uncertainty and the continuing threat of “fire and rehire” hanging over a number of BA employees.
‘These threats should be removed in order to allow for a constructive approach to the challenges faced to be found.’
Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, commented: ‘BA’s CEO Alex Cruz presided over the worst attack on BA employees in the entire history of the company.
‘He leaves behind a demoralised workforce during the greatest crisis the aviation industry has ever seen.
‘Cruz is now the scapegoat for BA’s catastrophic threat of fire and rehire.
‘His departure should be a stern warning for any other CEO believing it’s a tactic they can get away with lightly.
‘The pandemic has led employers to believe fire and rehire is now a morally sound option. It’s not.
‘The reality is it leaves behind it a wake of destruction amongst the workforce that is hard to repair.’