Defend Heathrow jobs rally today!

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HUNDREDS of British Airways workers are demonstrating outside the airline’s Heathrow HQ today against the outsourcing and offshoring of their jobs to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India.

The GMB members are marching from BA’s Heathrow HQ at Waterside to a rally and public meeting at 12.30pm in the nearby Thistle Hotel. The 800 IT workers have been told they face a ‘staged outsourcing’ of their jobs at Heathrow, Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff and Scotland.

Labour MP for Hayes & Harlington and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will be speaking at today’s rally along with GMB national officer for aviation, Mick Rix. Rix said last week: ‘The job losses are around 700 people at Heathrow and around 100 in Newcastle and other locations.

‘BA’s reward for their loyalty is redundancy and to replace them with another company’s cheap labour brought in from abroad on dubious visas,’ he alleged.

BA intends to apply for temporary Tier Two visas for TCS staff coming to the UK from India to work at Heathrow terminal. Gary Pearce, GMB London Regional Officer, said: ‘I’ve spoken to a large number of staff that are outraged at BA’s plans. BA can only use this visa when there is a shortage of staff. We think they are in breach of regulations and we’ll challenge them on this. Industrial action is ‘a distinct possibility’, Pearce declared.

Meanwhile, the GMB is holding a consultative ballot for strike action against BA’s plan to pass on company National Insurance liability of 3.1% to employees, meaning they will be forced to pay an extra 4.5% from 6th April.

Mick Rix said: ‘Due to changes brought in by the government from April 6th workers will have to pay an extra 1.4% in National Insurance. However BA executives have decided to pass on the company National Insurance liability of 3.1% to its employees. This means that employees at BA will pay an extra 4.5% from April.

‘A few weeks ago the country was in uproar about Google’s tax affairs. Now BA are not only avoiding their tax liability to the government but have decided to pass on its liability and force its employees to pay the company share and pay far more tax than they need to.

‘BA are acting disproportionately and are disadvantaging lower paid women colleagues, who in effect will be paying more of the company share of tax as a proportion of earnings, than senior managers earning above £100k per annum.

‘Is it any wonder that our staff representatives are demanding to be consulted on whether they should take industrial action to persuade the company to behave like a responsible superbrand employer?’

The ballot commenced on 24th February and closes on 10th March.