‘UNITE must call national strike action now to stop the jobs bloodbath at Heathrow Airport,’ British Airways ground staff worker Jamil Singh told News Line yesterday.
Already this week, British Airways (BA) has sacked hundreds of ground staff ‘on the spot’ when they came into work, escorting them to their lockers and then off the airport with security ‘like criminals’.
BA is warning thousands more that they will be made compulsorily redundant if they fail to sign up to a new pay-cutting zero-hours contract by the 18th August – Zero Day.
The new contract states: ‘If there is temporary reduction in the need for your role due to a reduction in business or for any other reason, the Company may reduce your working hours or temporarily require you not to work.
‘During any period of temporary lay-off you will not be paid.
‘If you are required to work short time, you will be paid pro-rata for the hours you work.
‘Subject to any minimum statutory rights, holiday and pension accrual will cease during lay-off and accrue pro-rata during any period of short-time working.’
BA workers are furious that their unions, Unite and the GMB, have failed to call any action to defeat this attack on their jobs, pay and conditions.
BA ground staff below wing operations worker Jamil Singh said: ‘It is absolutely disgusting. The people who made the company are the people who are being sacked. The likes of Alex Cruz, BA CEO, and Willie Walsh, the top man at IAG, didn’t make the company. They are just reaping the rewards of what the workers have made.
‘Call a strike, march on the airport and occupy it, sack Cruz and Walsh, renationalise BA.
‘People are going into work this week and being sacked.
‘Yesterday, they made someone work his full shift and then they sacked him on the spot. Now that the government’s furlough scheme is being ended they are calling people back to work just to sack them.
‘We’re told we’ve got to sign up to their new contract by 18th August or its compulsory redundancy. The terms and conditions are no less than a zero-hours contract. It’s reduction in pay – they use you when they’re busy and send you home without pay when they’re not.
‘They’re asking you to sign up for six weeks’ compulsory leave without pay and a worse process for sickness, making it easier for them to fire you. It amounts to way more than a 20% pay cut. They are just using the pandemic as an excuse to slash everybody’s terms and conditions.
‘We’re just hoping the union will put something out by the 18th. We don’t know what to do. The union should have done a lot more a lot earlier. We don’t even know when we go back to work if we are going to be marched off the airport and sacked. This is what is happening to people.
‘Unite should have called the airport out ages ago. Now it should call a national strike and we should occupy to save all our jobs.’
Unite member and ground operative Steve Smith added: ‘Basically BA’s principal proposals have been agreed by the NSP (national stewards panel) reps at the regional level, against the legal advice of the union nationally, to be balloted on.
‘An online ballot was called on Wednesday and it closed today, with the result due over the weekend. However that ballot has already been compromised because the link could be sent to people not entitled to vote and it was open to double voting online. I can’t understand why they can’t go to a paper ballot. This is a serious situation.
‘Anyway, I’m not signing anything. They are likely to make me compulsorily redundant. I’ve worked for BA for 20 years. They say that seven million aviation workers are to be sacked throughout Europe.
‘People will struggle to pay their mortgages. Work-life balance is being torn up, shredded up and thrown out of the window. There’s a lot of arm-twisting tactics. The unions have to fight. They must call action now to defend jobs, pay and conditions.’