British Airways, Unite and GMB agree a deal to furlough 30,000+ BA staff due to coronavirus

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Unite and GMB, the two main unions which represent British Airways staff, have reached an agreement with the airline on how workers will be protected during the coronavirus crisis.

We don’t have all of the details yet but Unite has released the bullet points below.

Unite does not mention how many staff are impacted but a similar press release from the GMB union mentions ‘over 30,000’.

British Airways, Unite and GMB agree a deal to furlough 30,000+ BA staff

Here are the key parts of the deal:

British Airways will introduce a modified version of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  This allows the airline to furlough workers on 80% of their current salary.  The Guardian states that this will last until 31st May.  Unlike the Government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings.

For crew, the 80% number includes both base pay and 80% of certain allowances, taking the nearer to 80% of their previous total income

Workers will be able to divert their pension contributions into their pay for a short period of time, boosting take-home income albeit at the expense of topping up their pension and benefiting from the tax breaks which come with that

There will be no unpaid temporary lay offs

There will be no redundancies and the on-going redundancy process will be halted

From what is known, this looks like an excellent deal for all British Airways who are impacted.  The real winners are those on high salaries who will receive 80% of their entire salary rather than being capped at £2,500 per month.  This is hugely expensive for the airline given the numbers of managerial staff who will benefit.

In theory, this remains a proposal and will not be binding until all Unite and GMB members who work for British Airways have voted on it.  It is difficult to see anyone voting against the deal in its current form, however.

The full Unite press release is on its website here.

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  1. I obviously don’t know the exact state of BA’s finances but now may not be the best time to be generous? If £2500 is too low a cap of £5000 rather than unlimited may be more appropriate, unless the overall difference is insignificant. I agree that when times are good BA should treat its staff better.

    • southlondonphil says:

      Now is precisely the time to be generous. Despite saying they don’t want it, IAG/BA will inevitably need to access government cash at some point soon-ish. Having been seen to play fair and generous in looikng after your staff is far better for what Americans call ‘the optics’ than Easyjet’s £170m shareholder dividend or Virgin putting all its staff on immediate unpaid leave.

      When BA runs out of money it can point to this and say that it did so because it spent it in a socially constructive manner attempting to preserve 30,000 jobs, in the hope that Rishi Sunak will say “OK, that’s fair. Here, have a loan”

  2. Unequivocally great offer from BA – clearly likely to be reviewed at end of May or June.

    Yet still people on here find reasons to gripe…..

  3. Phil Gollings says:

    There is no mechanism yet to get this money from the government and I’m sure there will be restrictions if the company has been in profit or has liquid assets or cash reserves

  4. Annih says:

    I think this is a play to avoid any government led funds. Now it’s almost impossible to justify using tax money to prop up a company who is paying more than most for furloughs.

  5. To BA staff………… Unless you are within 3 (push to 5 in extreme financial circumstances) of retirement, do NOT divert your pension contributions to your salary!! You will regret it later on!

  6. Simon Green says:

    This is a great move from BA, a touch of class.

    Will keep my loyalty for the future.

  7. Don’t forget, this stops the Govt having a stake in BA / IAG going forward… Which would stop any shareholder dividends & bonuses for the top guys. ..
    And it will be looked at again at the end of May… Staff aren’t out of the woods yet…

  8. @mkcol says:

    I wonder how they calculate it for the cabin crew.
    Is it their base salary or including an average of their allowances/per diems?

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