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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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Comments (45)

  • Doug M says:

    “There will be redundancies and the on-going redundancy process will be halted”
    Seems odd, maybe a ‘no’ missing?

  • sWander says:

    Are we expecting more pruning of the timetables as a result of this or do we think this development has already been factored into what is still showing as operational?

    • insider says:

      i’m not sure if the level of cuts is reflected in the timetables at the moment. the IAG RNS states a 90% reduction in capacity in April and May

  • Tom says:

    Don’t think the staff have to vote for this as both unions have agreed it.

    Also – You missed the word ‘staff‘ out of this sentence ‘this looks like an excellent deal for all British Airways who are impacted‘

    • insider says:

      the unite statement says the deal will now be circulated to members for their final approval. Although you’d be mad not to take it…

  • Mac D says:

    So they have the option of using the Government scheme but decline and pay themselves when their business is clearly deeply impacted in the short and long term and bankruptcy is a possibility…

    • ChrisC says:

      BA can still take part in the government scheme but the government scheme will only reimburse BA the 80% up to £2.5k of salary with BA picking up the rest of the cost.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      They are using the government scheme but no Cap. Rest will come from BA

  • J says:

    It is a fair deal and without strong unions the workers would have got less than this. Lesson in the importance of strong trade unions.

    • Richard Relief says:

      My wife has got the same deal and her company is mostly un-unionised.

      I think the top mgt want to pay themselves 80% of their full salaries (& maintain pension contributions/ car benefits) for the next 2 months whilst there is no cash coming into the business apart from the Govt £2500/ employee scheme).

      And it would look unfair if the top guys awarded themselves uncapped 80% without giving it to the layers of mgt and workers beneath them.

      Easy when it’s somebody else’s money. You have to hope the owners will benefit in the medium and long term thanks to retaining happy productive staff.

      We were expecting a much meaner outcome.

  • insider says:

    not sure about that. They are just using a scheme that is open to every company – you’d be stupid not to use it, especially if 99% of your workforce can’t actually work!

  • Duck Ling says:

    The big question is, given that a recovery for the airline industry will happen very slowly with some predicting up to 18 months –

    what happens when the government starts winding back their 80% offer?

  • Debs says:

    So a pilot who may be earning £100k will now earn £80k? That’s a pretty decent deal – hope BA won’t regret such a generous offering later down the line!

    • Nick says:

      You’ll notice that BALPA aren’t mentioned in the agreement here, and that their numbers aren’t included in the 30k quoted. This is because they agreed a separate deal a week or two ago, which sees pilots being put on unpaid leave for a week or two in each of April and May. That agreement still stands, hence they are not included in this one.

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