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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)

  • Nick_C says:

    Reckless to be paying flight crew their full salary to sit at home.

    I hope the government doesn’t bail them out when they run out of cash.

    • Nick_C says:

      ^80% of their full salary…

    • J says:

      I hope you never full on hard times and need help from somebody else.

      • Nick_C says:

        A lesson passed down through the generations in my family was always try to keep a rainy day fund that would keep you for a year if need be.

        Its a philosophy moulded by the great depression and WW2; a self reliance that predates the Welfare State and the Entitlement Generations.

        Not so easy for those struggling on minimum wage perhaps, but if flight crew on £100k can’t manage to live on £30k for the next year, then they should be seriously ashamed of themselves.

        If BA can afford to pay their pilots 80% without a cap then fine. As long as they don’t expect the taxpayer to bail them out if they run out of cash.

        Although personally, if they have plenty of spare cash, I think they should give the relatively low paid cabin crew more support.

        • J says:

          Please spare us the preaching. Why should crew on £100k be ashamed of themselves if they could not manage on significantly less? Do you know their personal situation and financial commitments, number of family members they’re supporting etc. Yes of course it is a good idea to have some savings but what is now happening with a government enforced shutdown of businesses to save lives is unprecedented and not something anyone saw coming.

          • sayling says:



            Many people forget how little they had left over at the end if each month 10, 15 or 20 years ago, which is often comparable to what they have left over now.

          • ken says:


            The UK 1930’s depression (and it didn’t affect many places) was one of grinding poverty for the unemployed & meant signing on twice a day.

            The idea that people had 12 months cash tucked away is risible.

            The idea that more than a small percentage of people have that tucked away these days is laughable. Almost impossible if you are cabin crew.

          • Nick_C says:

            You chose to make it personal, so I responded.

            My only concern is that we don’t use taxpayers’ money to pay airline pilots £80k a year to sit at home doing nothing. If BA runs out of cash and the Government bail them out, then that will be the result. There are better uses for public funds. If BA can genuinely fund this themselves, I have no problem with it.

  • PB says:

    Whilst I admire BA’s sentiment, which does its best to indicate to the outside world their protection of and commitment to, their employees, this significantly and substantially promotes the rapid disintegration of IAG’s reserves, when they should not. This airline’s staff are renowned for (unprofessionally) voicing their negative options to us all on far too many occasions I surmise that this decision will do nothing to improve relations – probably just giving them what they feel they deserve leading to management only enjoying a temporary and minimal uplift in favour.

    Bet shareholders are ecstatic!

    Might be an unpopular opinion but I’ll put it out there.

    • J says:

      No idea what you mean about BA staff voicing their opinions. I’m no fan of BA but their crew are pretty consistent in their professionalism, even if the product is not always great. But I’ve had several flights in recent weeks and I was impressed, strange circumstances but professionalism and dedication. BA crew are still flying and risking their own health. They have rent and bills to pay – and in the case of cabin crew, particularly mixed fleet they are as it is poorly paid. There’s a big crisis right now but we will get through it and right now the focus should be on helping people get by – not worrying about IAG shareholders and cutting costs. Although as it is I think IAG shareholders will be just fine, I don’t think the share price could drop much more so I’ve happily taken a gamble!

  • PB says:

    I am guilty of a gross generalisation of course but I have taken so many flights recently when the staff have exhibited a pretty poor attitude. Might have come down from the CSD but I think that is unfair. Sorry about his but the attitude has generally come from the older staff … who think they are due more than what they get. I think many refer to this set as those on the old contracts. That aside, I accept that the staff recently have shown great passion for 5e work they do. Shame it has taken a worldwide emergency for them to realise how magnificent BA is (of which they are an integral part) and left the internal bickering and mudslinging aside for at least the few difficult months ahead. For the record, I love BA. my gripe is against those employees who do it down when it is their lifeblood. Talking about biting off the hand that feeds you 😡

    • the_real_a says:

      Although its down to the individual, and i’ve had many good experiences. The worst experiences of crew attitude in the past decade have all been on BA. There is a lot of deadwood that needs clearing out.

  • John says:

    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”

  • Ken says:

    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…..

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Rich says:

    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!

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