Len McCluskey blows his cool with Alex Cruz and announces plans for British Airways cabin crew strikes

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If you were wondering how the discussions between the UNITE union and British Airways were going, given that British Airways pilots have (subject to a vote) secured a deal with the airline to minimise job cuts, the answer seems to be “could be better”.

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of UNITE, released this letter last night that he has sent to Alex Cruz, British Airways Chief Executive.

I should say that none of the cabin crew I have spoken with have actually seen this ‘timetable’ to fire all staff on 7th August.  There IS a process for voluntary redundancy (staff must submit reasons by today for why they should be retained, voluntary redundancy and part-time working applications must be submitted by 3rd August, the result of the selection process for choosing those who remain is 7th August) but this is not the same as deciding to fire all staff unilaterally on 7th August.

See what you make of it …..

Len McCluskey BA

Dear Alex,

I am in receipt of your email dated 26 July and I am both staggered and offended by your arrogance.

In the opening paragraph you state “it has taken this long for you to realise and accept this”. This reference infers that I am only now understanding the financial difficulties that British Airways face. How dare you suggest such a thing. I have attempted for months to try to get you to understand the need to treat your workers with respect and dignity and this is the only way to get through this pandemic together. It is your staff, not you, that have for many years, built the good name of British Airways and contributed billions of pounds to its profitability year on year.

Your decision to adopt a scorched earth strategy with a ‘Fire and Rehire’ approach was always despicable. You and your management team have dragged the good name of British Airways through the mud. Have you ever asked yourself why so many MPs from all parties, at the highest level, have condemned British Airways or why newspaper and media outlets have been appalled at your actions? Perhaps you don’t understand that the British sense of ‘Fair Play’ runs deep in the psyche of the British people.

I am advised that no sooner are certain issues on process agreed then the company management renege on them, it beggars the question as to who is running the show – so much so that it is my intention to seek meetings with Antonio Vazquez Romero and IAG.

Also, please don’t insult me by asking ”how many of my members I have spoken to?” When you know full well that you have received thousands of heartfelt emails from your staff that you have ignored and or deleted without even reading. My shop stewards and reps speak to members constantly, dealing with the stress, anxiety and heart ache caused by your management style and strategy. Instead of criticising Unite reps, you should actually listen to them, instead of pretending to do so in order that you can tick some consultative process box and you might, at long last, realise that the only way to have a lasting peace and avoid months/years of industrial unrest is to work with us to achieve an acceptable way forward.

You have now published a timetable to Fire and Rehire thousands of your workforce on 7 August, we will work every hour between now and then, to convince you not to do so.

You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect.

Yours sincerely,


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  1. Briandt says:

    Idiotic schoolboy letter.

  2. Nathan says:

    Thanks Len. Just the mature and professional response that was needed 🙄

  3. I’m very sympathetic to the situation the Cabin crew are in and I’m politically firmly on the left but bloody hell this is a massively unprofessional letter from Len.

  4. Choons says:

    Am I the only one who thinks its funny that he signs off in caps but that the small c in Mc is still a small c. Maybe it’s just me.

    • Fraser says:

      In all caps, “McCLUSKEY” indicates that the C should be capitalised. “MCCLUSKEY” would, without using caps, translate to Mccluskey without a capital C.

  5. Colin says:

    Letters written in anger are seldom effective and often regretted. It’s perhaps an indicator of the pressure being felt by McCluskey on this matter.
    On the BA side their Management seem to be steering the business in a ‘race to the bottom’ and they are cynically using the pandemic effects on travel to leverage their staff into a ‘rock or a hard place’ decision.
    I used to enjoy travelling with BA but engaging Walsh was the point at which the die was cast and the rot set in, Alex Cruz is just following the line set.
    I have real sympathy for BA employees.

    • “I have real sympathy for BA employees” – maybe I have misunderstood what Rob has said previously, but aren’t most of them set to receive a pay rise during the worst recession any of us have ever known?

      • mark2 says:

        Quite, and the union seems to be desperate to preserve enormous inequality mong similar employees.
        But has refused to negotiate with the employer.

        • The union opposed the creation of Mixed Fleet in the first place because it would create inequality so your comment makes no sense…

      • Susan Lowther says:

        Many of the staff will be what is in effect a 40% pay cut and worse terms and conditions

  6. Mikeact says:

    Here we go again….might as well re run all the earlier comments a couple of months back, when the redundancy options were first aired.

  7. GetitRight says:

    Im surprised that anyone still believes that Cruz has ever had any input to BA; he is simply a puppet of Walsh from whom all of the venom spouts.

  8. Tony Caplan says:

    Im confused, really confused! Apparently, Mr McCluskey, you’ve undergone MAJOR heart surgery and are still recovering from this!
    How are you fit enough to undertake union duties??

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