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Has Len McCluskey admitted that Unite’s actions increased the British Airways redundancies?

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If you work for British Airways as cabin crew or in parts of engineering, you would have found out on Friday whether your job was safe or if you had been made redundant.  Other parts of the business will find out their fates this week.

As has been well publicised, the approach of the Unite union throughout this process has been one of disengagement.  Unite spent the majority of the legally required consultation period refusing to meet with the airline, and also recommended that its members refuse to engage with the process.

The latter part now seems to have come home to roost.  It appears, although clearly British Airways will not confirm this, that redundancies have been made purely on the basis of a defined ranking process.  This makes the process legally ‘sound’ and means that BA can clearly show that no favouritism or bias took blace.  Ranking was based on various factors including historic appraisals, but also some information requested from staff.  Those who refused to complete the documents required, as the union suggested, did not do themselves any favours.

On Friday, Unite issued a statement on the crew redundancies which you can find here.

It contains a statement which appears relatively uncontentious but is actually quite shocking:

“Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey has called upon BA to offer the deal that it struck with pilots to the rest of the workforce as a way to bring a fair resolution to the current crisis.”

unite british airways redundancies

Unlike Unite, the pilot’s union BALPA DID choose to engage and negotiate with British Airways.

The result of these negotations was that the number of job losses amongst pilots was SUBSTANTIALLY reduced.  The initial plan for 1,255 compulsory redundancies was reduced to around 200.

This is how it worked:

All pilots who remain will take a pay cut of 8%, effective from September 2020

All pilots who remain will take an ADDITIONAL pay cut of 8% (so a total of 16%) which will be paid into a Community Retention Scheme.  This pot will be used to pay the salaries of 300 pilots who will be grounded.  This pay cut will last from September 2020 to September 2022, with the amount reducing as flight numbers increase and more pilots are pulled back into the active fleet.

The 4% pay rise agreed for April 2021 will be deferred until January 2024

All pilots will take two weeks unpaid leave between August 2020 and April 2021

Our full article on the British Airways pilots pay deal is here.

Unite is now effectively admitting that its strategy of refusing to negotiate with British Airways has failed.  Asking the airline to give cabin crew the same deal that was negotiated by BALPA is an admission that a deal could have been cut but wasn’t.  Many people are now paying for that decision with their careers.

PS.  There is another point, of course.  Would cabin crew share Len McCluskey’s enthusiasm for the BALPA deal?  It seems unlikely that cabin crew, especially Mixed Fleet with base salaries of around £15,000, would voluntarily take an 8% pay cut and contribute a further 8% to a pot to pay non-working colleagues.  The pilot’s deal is also believed to have an element of ‘last in, first out’ which means that cabin crew redundancies would fall disproportionately on Mixed Fleet.

Comments (120)

  • MYSELF says:

    Not just ‘Red Len’ but the ENTIRE senior team should hang…….. Their heads in shame. They will of course still he on those nice 6 figure salaries as they were throughout as they played “let’s pretend it’s the 70s” and hung their poor members out to dry.

    Imho they are an utter disgrace, the whole corrupt, rotten lot of them.
    I don’t imagine it will be long before they take and money to send out a “now, more than ever, YOU need to make sure your monthly payments are up to date”

    • Lady London says:

      i do not believe that factually it would have been possible to get the same level of improvements to the offer from BA to cabin crew as pilots achieved.

      Cabin crew are not scarce and little training lag for new ones. Lower paid so less room for manoeuvre. In all scenarios far fewer numbers needed to do the job. Easily replaceable as soon as recovery shoots appear.

      However perhaps more options to go part time, retain returning rights but request a sabbatical, be able to choose to be rostered predominantly longhaul or shorthaul routes for 2-3 year, options for jobsharing short term…. the blow maybe could have been softened for some with intelligent union support.

      But what do we know, looking from the outside?maybe cabin crew were better represented by their union than it looks.

      • Felicity B. says:

        No we were not. The unions let us down badly and in the midst of the crisis Unite removed many members from the Facebook page saying that their subs weren’t up to date (they were!) These members then did not know what was going on, it was horrendous.

  • Eyal Ben Cohen says:

    OT: my flight has been cancelled by BA and they offer a voucher, or avios. Do any of you know if it is possible to get an actual cash refund? The flight was booked last Nov…

    • Rob says:

      Yes, but you need to call. Ring and you get the money back.

      • Peter Stewart says:

        I had to ring first thing in the morning when they open to get through to get a cash refund on mine otherwise it’s just a recorded message saying that they can’t answer at the moment. It took me several attempts over 3 days to get a person that could do a refund.

    • Felicity B. says:

      If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund, but you have to phone in and request it.

  • Rob says:

    On the money as always Rob. Unite have failed the cabin crew so badly. If they had have engaged from the start like the pilots did there would have been a completely different outcome.

    Cruz and McCluskey have used the staff as pawns in the competition between their egos.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Like it or not, I think Cruz has tried to work in the interest of his shareholders. I’m not sure one can say that McCluskey even tried to work in the interest of his members.

  • Kathy French says:

    Unite need a shake up. Refusing to negociate makes no sense.

  • P says:

    So what happened to the BA mitigation option of unpaid leave for Cabin Crew, assume that will still go ahead during winter 2020/21 at a time of BAs chosing, one would hope for crews budgeting sake a week at a time.

    As for this continued fixaton of Unite to remove slots who do they think is going to take them over, which UK airline comes to mind with sufficient resources . Would the union and the membership be happy for the jobs and slots to go to an offshore based airline which is the likely end game if they succeed .

  • Mikeact says:

    Courtesy of @ChrisC the other day, on the subject of slots.

    You need slots at many airports across the world and you can’t look at them in total isolation.
    For example BA normally runs 4 flights a day ex LGW to AMS. They need slots at both LGW and AMS to do that as AMS is also slot controlled.
    UK gov could say 80/20 no longer applies so BA can cancel flights to AMS with no risk of losing the LGW slots.
    But if the EU does reinstate the rule then BA will then just lose the slots at AMS unless it does use them for passenger traffic (it’s not good publicity to just run empty slot sitting flights and they still cost money to run) From say LHR or LCY or (unlikely) from a U.K. regional airport.

    AA runs 3/4 flights LHR-JFK. It could drop ex LHR if the U.K. eased the 80/20 rule but it would still be required to still use those slots at JFK unless the US also suspended the rules. Hence these slot easing are done on an international basis.

  • Andy says:

    Its like reading the Daily Mail letter page where people who are neither impacted or have very limited knowledge hold such strong opinions…….not sure if they understand that Unite is a democratic Union and Mr McCluskey is their elected leader…..right or wrong the decision would have been made in the members best interest. Reasonable article but I’d much rather hear from people affected than Trade Union haters!.

    • Briandt says:

      @Andy “decision would have been made in the members best interests”…… Jeez, if this is what you really believe then I really feel for the paid up members.

    • Felicity B. says:

      Well here’s a word from a (soon to be ex) Cabin Crew member; Unite’s performance was abysmal and GMB were worse! We were completely let down & felt unrepresented.
      The Unions strung us out to the very last moment, we hung on hoping for assistance. At the last minute Union emails came out saying “read BAs proposals ” (the same proposals they told us for months to ignore).
      When they FINALLY decided to engage with BA it was too late, time had run out! Many of us just took Voluntary Redundancy in utter despair.

    • Steve says:

      I think a sizeable share of the readers here would lean toward the Daily Mail, just mention dinghies in tomorrow’s comments and you’ll have them come at you like a fish pedicure.

      • Spursdebs says:

        But you will still take the help and knowledge of the HFP collective even if they are a dirty DM readers if you need it won’t you, which is why you are here in first place like the rest of us.

      • AJA says:

        I don’t care what newspapers people read. I don’t care whether they are to the left of Stalin or the right of Himmler. That’s none of my concern and not relevant to a travel blog. I don’t even care if they are champagne socialists living it large in first class or true blue Tory Hooray Henry’s sitting in the last row of economy. What I appreciate is the views on travel related matters and help and advice offered. Though at a stretch you could call crossing the channel in an inflatable boat travel related so fair game to be discussed, any view on where is the best place to sit? 🙂

    • Aaron C says:

      Your joking?
      Anyone who’s been involved with unions in any capacity knows how corrupt they are.
      I’m not even convinced they always act in members’ interests. They think they are but there’s a lot of group think and need to show unity involved that stifles real debate.
      The unions are a real let down which is an absolute shame as they’re needed more than ever in this unstable economy.

  • TonyT says:

    My experience of UNISON supporting my redundancy a few years ago echos this lack of preparation. They are full of lovely words, yet failed to get the detail. If I hadn’t intervened myself I’d have been given short shrift from a bullying employer. UNITE have let down their long Paying contributions

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Tony [email protected] Why o Why would you work for a bullying employer I’D be out of the door after 1st day lol
      My Son once went for a job interview got the Job, but was told he would have to wear a suit.
      He said, but I’M working in “back office” not meeting the public, when i’m meeting the public i’ll wear a suit but not otherwise
      He was told it was company policy, he laughed and said, “get someone else”
      Company bullying just to suit the ceo’s (he earns 80k+ outside London) earned more when he worked for Microsoft with free flights (could wear jeans and t-shirt)
      When he lectures or a talk he mainly wears a suit if necessary
      I Myself wear a suit weddings and funerals (to many of both lol)