Unite union claims partial BA U-turn – draft agreement to be put to ballot

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BA ground staff Unite members voted for strike action to fight sackings and pay cuts at their mass meeting on August 20

UNITE union said yesterday that it welcomes what it has called British Airway’s ‘partial U-turn on fire and rehire’ but warns issues are ‘not yet settled’.

British Airways sacked 42,000 workers at the beginning of August.

Following the appearance of Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways at the House of Commons transport select committee yesterday (Wednesday), Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: ‘It is thanks to the immense work of Unite reps that British Airways has been forced to accept that it cannot indulge in the comprehensive fire and rehire policy that the airline intended.

‘But Alex Cruz has misled the transport select committee by indicating that fire and rehire is completely off the table. This needs to be corrected.

‘There are still too many BA workers facing threats to their wages and working life.  These threats should be withdrawn today.

‘MPs and the select committee need to be aware that Alex Cruz’s comments to the committee earlier are not entirely correct. This is a very important matter and we would not wish MPs and the select committee to get the wrong impression.

‘To be clear, the fire and rehire threat still hangs over some BA workers. If Alex Cruz wishes to take this opportunity to say that he is removing this threat from our members then Unite is more than ready to talk.

‘Draft agreements with British Airways will not be finalised by Unite until members have voted on them and agreed to changes in their contracts.

‘Even if agreements are reached and finalised in all of British Airways sectors, this does not herald industrial peace.

‘Any changes in contracts should have been of a temporary nature and once British Airways returns to profit, the cuts in pay and conditions should be immediately restored.

‘This is the very least that British Airways should do for its loyal staff who were instrumental in delivering profits of £1.9 billion last year.’

However, an internal message seen by News Line, sent yesterday morning from Unite to the BA underwing staff, suggests that the union has settled with BA and agreed to a 4-7% pay cut.

The internal message reads: ‘Good morning,

‘As you are aware the Union and BA have come to an agreement. These are the new breakdown of the new deal.

‘It’s is quite complex and staff will need to read it carefully.

‘Some of the changes/cuts are temporary and will last two years max.

‘On pay our staff would lose 4-7% depending on how much they earn, so if you’re on the top pay rate it will be 7% cut and new starters would be a bit less.

‘All Staff would lose 5% off their shift pay both of these cuts are not temporary.

‘VR (Voluntary Redundancy) will be back on the table for anyone not wanting to stay.

‘The Staff made CR (Compulsory Redundancy) will have the chance to give back the money and go into a pool of staff to be brought back as need(ed), but they can only stay in it for max two years after that they would be made redundant if they have not been bought back.

‘The pool is funded by Union and we will need to pay a percentage into it, the amount will depend on how many are in the pool, and as/if the number goes down so will what we pay, the staff in the pool will receive 70% of their pay.

‘There is a stand down clause, but it can not be down to seasonal lows and can only be used if strict guide lines are follow(ed).

‘Some level one grades on the Ramp will become multi functional, Baggage, Loading and logistics.

‘The six weeks unpaid leave has changed from unpaid leave to what is basically another pay cut but is only Temp, and should not be the full six weeks, so you will get stopped the money but not get the time off, but the money will be taken over a period of time not all in one go and it’s temporary 20-21.

‘Most important good news about this is you keep your contracts, your pension and most of your T&C’s (Terms and Conditions).

‘There is a lot more but hopefully this will give you a little insight.’