THE GMB has accused BA of bad faith. Claims of ‘significant progress’ in a leaked letter from British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz mask a vicious attack on hard-won pay and conditions, said the GMB union yesterday.
GMB said it was a sad and shameful day for the company with BA workers left hurt, angry and demoralised by the airline’s behaviour.
Accusing the company of ‘bad faith’, the union said BA had used the threat of ‘fire and rehire’ to transform the prospect of a decent deal with significant concessions – into a move that would result in ‘glorified zero hours’ terms and conditions for staff.
Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer said: ‘This doesn’t feel like significant progress to BA’s workforce. The bad faith shown by BA to mask a vicious attack on hard-won pay and conditions leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
‘GMB representatives worked tirelessly to negotiate a deal which would save jobs and mitigate against compulsory redundancies – including pay cuts, reductions in hours, and unpaid leave in the Winter.
‘The prospect of a decent deal on Friday turned into a gun placed to members’ heads on Monday to force further concessions, with representatives pushed to accept additional pay cuts and a “lay off” clause, which essentially creates glorified zero-hours contracts, on pain of dismissal and re-engagement notices being issued to BA’s loyal staff.
‘Our members are hurt, angry and demoralised by this once-proud airline’s behaviour. This is a sad and shameful day in BA’s illustrious history.’
BA has reached an agreement with its four main trade unions on a package of reforms to tackle its 2.1 billion pound ($4.1 billion) pension deficit, the airline said on Saturday.
The deal, struck late on Friday, will be recommended by the unions to the workforce to end months of negotiations and could lift the threat of industrial action at the airline.
The Unite and GMB trade unions have reached an agreement in principle with British Airways.
It is reported that the deal will see overall employment being slashed while BA has secured a one year pay freeze to October 2021.
A ballot will commence on August 16th, closing four weeks later on September 13th.
GMB National Officer for members in civil aviation, Mick Rix, took a different line from Houghton saying: ‘It has been a long hard slog but in the end the negotiations have proved successful and we are recommending the outcome to our members who will now vote on the deal.’
Unite’s BA GSS NSPA groundstaff branch in a statement of Tuesday August 11 to its members states ‘Representatives from both GMB and Unite have now signed a formal “agreement in principle” that would cover those colleagues working above the wing in Heathrow and in Engineering.’
The statement starts: ‘On being stabbed in the back on Monday night … (ground staff national shop stewards panel) were issued with an ultimatum from the company.’
It adds: ‘These changes had dramatic financial and contractual implications for our members and it was felt that under these conditions we could not accept this letter.’
It continues: ‘There is a plan to remove terms and conditions by getting you to sign a new contract, don’t do it.
‘But now they have made some of our members redundant, shame on BA, we had a chance to maybe save some jobs, but they did not care, we will of course support them in any way we can.
‘So don’t engage, if we don’t do something now, you will surely lose everything.’
The letter concludes: ‘This is not over by a long way.
Unite GSS NSP.’