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British Airways Heathrow terminal staff agree big pay cuts to avoid compulsory redundancies

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Whilst redundancy notices have or are currently being issued to British Airways staff working in engineering, cabin crew and on the ramps at Heathrow, the airline has made a deal with Heathrow terminal staff.  There will be no compulsory redundancies.

The deal is complex and the two sides still remain £4 million apart in terms of the total cost savings required.  They are near enough, however, for both sides to agree that the difference can be bridged through further talks.

The situation was helped by, apparently, a strong demand for voluntary redundancy.

British Airways terminal 5 staff pay deal

The need for additional compulsory redundancies has been removed by a package of measures which include:

An 11% reduction in pay and hours, to be reversed as conditions allow

For some staff, an additional and permanent reduction of 10% in pay with no reduction in hours worked

Five weeks of unpaid leave to be taken over Winter 2020/21

No pay rises until 2023

Introduction of variable shift lengths

Reduction in the notice given to workers of their shifts

Ability of BA to shorten or extend shifts by 30 minutes on the day

This deal clearly requires a major sacrifice by staff.  Some will see their pay cut by 21%, albeit with an 11% cut in hours, with no prospect of a pay rise for many years.  They will also have less flexibility in how their days are scheduled.

All staff who wish to stay with the airline will remain, however, which is more than can be said for other departments.  The deal needs to be approved by staff but is being recommended by GMB, which agreed the deal in consultation with Unite.

Comments (45)

  • Health First says:

    “with no prospect of a pay rise for many years”

    Welcome to life in the public sector!

    • Kevin says:

      Very much so

    • Andrew says:

      Or any sector for the foreseeable.

      • Rob says:

        Large parts of the economy are moving as usual. You only see the visible bits like retail, which are hit.

    • Lady London says:

      some would say the public sector is still catching up with what private sector employees have faced for 25 years at least.

      • Richard says:

        As a public sector worker I have seen my real income fall 12% in real terms since 2008 despite a promotion and very flexible working arrangements, a massive increase in pension contributions and a compulsory switch to contracted in national insurance….

        • Lady London says:

          sorry @Richard that’s nowhere near caught up with conditions in the private sector since at least the mid-90’s

      • Paul says:

        This is utter tosh.
        I was in the private sector for 25 years and almost every year had a pay award at or above inflation. My wife still is and her awards are regularly above inflation. For the last 12 years I have been in the public sector and for 5 years there was no award and 1% for the others. Only recently has that changed but none have been above inflation.
        The people who run hospital, school, police fire and other essential services need a lot more respect than they are generally given and far more pay for the work done

  • Andrew says:

    The terminal workforce is skewed towards the older age demographic who are much more likely to take voluntary redundancy, so it doesn’t surprise me that this is the area to reach their cost savings first.

    • Yuff says:

      If the cabin crew that were on the more advantageous salaries, due to greater years of employment, were as flexible then perhaps BA might not have had to resort to the tactics recently employed.

      • Bergan 87 says:

        Jeez! Please educate yourself…. dear oh dear.

      • Garry says:

        Oh dear. Maybe you need to read a little more. These options were not given to cabin crew on legacy contracts. Willie got his long awaited wet dream by screwing loyal workers and not willing to offer any such deal to hard working staff who loved BA.

  • Bill says:

    Two thoughts 1) why stay 2) why join ba now 3) do management acknowledge that they are the ones placing ba and it’s employees in this situation due to the (some say) “over generous t’s & c’s ?

    It’s not an employees fault they once worked for a reasonable employer

    • Bill says:

      3 thoughts ! A typo

    • Brian says:

      “ 1) why stay”

      Because if you’re in your mid 50s, for example, and have worked for them for 20 years+ it’ll be quite hard to get another job. People often talk about young workers suffering when there’s a recession but so do older ones (I’m in neither group).

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Or because you have bills to pay and their are thousands of unemployed people out there now fighting for jobs.

        Yes some will be perfectly fine, some will go on to bigger and better things but others will really struggle to find something with equal pay or have to take a cut in living standards and I feel sorry for those.

    • Alex says:

      This will be getting all philosophical / political, but with the horrendous Ts&Cs which you can see in the gig economy, society as a whole needs to decide what it wants to be, and how to make it sustainable. Either we want no benefits and low pay everywhere possible (it will hit industry after industry as new startups “disrupt the model”), or we want reasonable employers and everything will cost more.

      • Lady London says:

        The UK has already made its choice, for the masses.

        Which is only a timely recognition of the reality of the world today.

        Someone asked yesterday if Heathrow would go so far as to employ migrants who live in cupboards at the airport and eat gruel.

        I thought about working conditions we sometimes hear about in India, China and Africa where this goes on. Then I thought ‘other than the fact that it’s Heathrow where theoretically it would be too great a risk to security’ why would this issue concern only migrants

      • blenz101 says:

        Its pretty clear that a large majority of people purchase on price alone and the historic staffing costs and terms at BA are now overly generous in todays market. It’s a shame BA didn’t bite the bullet once and for all and put everyone on market pay and T&Cs.

        The reality is for all the safety mantra that surrounds a cabin crew role almost anybody fit and able could be taken off the street and trained to do it. Fot those who have had it very good for a very long time it is a shame but they are subject to the same market forces as every other industry.

        By comparison nobody here seems to care about hotel staff. In many cases staff in the industry are on zero hour contracts with their work pattern and volume dictated by hotel occupancy levels. Yet because they are largely immigrant workers and are not unionised nothing is ever said.

        • the_real_a says:

          Whilst not politically correct in well spoken London, it has to be said that the ban on zero-skill immigration after Brexit comes at the right time to help people already here, both migrant/uk born. One of the main factors of low pay in the gig/service sectors was the flow of always more people arriving – willing to work for minimum wage. As the sectors recover then employers will need to do more to recruit/retain their current staff either through wages or improved conditions.

          • Rob says:

            You do understand that 3 million Hong Kong residents have been granted the right to live and work in the UK and are heading over here as soon as the flights are available?

          • Lady London says:

            When did that change Rob? at first for 1997 the UK refused to do this.

          • David says:

            Rob – you really think 3 million people will up sticks from HK and move to the UK? There will certainly be some, but I can’t see it having any impact on low skilled migration. If anything it’s going to be wealthier people and the young, educated, politically active.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            The gig economy is expanding to high skill jobs too. Google IR35 and Off-payroll rules.

          • John says:

            LL have you missed all the news?? It’s been on the BBC etc for weeks.

            Out of the 3 million:
            200K have died
            1 milion are communists
            500K are ambivalent/ don’t want to rock the boat
            500K are settled in their lives and quite well off so won’t be leaving
            500K are already British/American/Canadian/Australian/Kiwi/German/Portuguese etc

            Nobody under 23 is eligible. Older people are less likely to want to move.

            There’s some overlap between these, don’t really know how much but I highly doubt even 500K people will come. Maybe over 20 years but not all at once.

          • Lady London says:

            Quite surprised the UK government changed on this + they were adamant before. Wonder why?

            I think Tony Blair said only about 30,000 people in Rumania would be interested in coming to the UK, but that turned out to be a few more?

        • Jim says:

          As some one who worked as a safety and security trainer for Cabin and Flight crew let me tell you that there were many people who came into the training centre with your belief and who didn’t successfully pass the new entrant course. Not only did it cover, fire fighting, conflict resolution, emergency evacuation, and medical intervention on an aircraft but required safety and security knowledge of 3-4 different aircraft. If successful the crew needed to return for annual validation of their knowledge to successfully operate as part of an aircrew.
          So no, it’s not for everyone and a well trained crew can mean the difference between life and death. Please remember this the next time you board an aircraft. It’s tough training for a job that can be draining and unglamorous.

  • Kevin says:

    Another example of where consultation has had a more favourable benefit for the employees.
    Once again it proves that some CC were overpaid in the industry and Unite knew this, hence why they are now trying to get the same deal that other departments have negotiated through consultation.

    • Bergan 87 says:

      You say overpaid. They signed mutually agreed contracts with BA. BA have been hugely profitable with the managers and pilots right at the top of industry salaries. Older Cabin Crew are on more money than newer Cabin Crew. What’s wrong with that?

  • David says:

    I’m sure if BA put out an advert for Heathrow terminal jobs even at a lower pay rate than currently they would be swamped with applications. That’s just how the jobs market is now sadly. So there would be quite a few people that would join BA, as some job is better than none.

    It’s not the staffs fault that some were over-paid, in some cases by some margin. But I can’t get what makes the airline industry so different from any other. Making people redundant, some of whom have worked for the airline for years is supposedly out of order, but this is happening everywhere and the news doesn’t go after those companies in a bad light.

    The error I feel was trying to recruit people back on the reduced wages. With all due respect, cabin crew roles are not like pilots which take years to train for. The advantages of re-employing someone experienced on a lower wage is kind of taken away by getting an unhappy employee.

    And this trend was happening before corona anyway. I’ve seen some more senior CC going through the motions, on the other hand I’ve seen some MF who were enthusiastic.

    • Dev says:

      Pilots don’t take years to train – they take 18 months at most (and that’s it you fail and have to resit something). Its a common fallacy that you have to be educated, highly skilled and trained to be a pilot. All you need is access to about £100K!

      (trust me, I know this as my younger brother left college and went straight into training, completed it within 12 months, got a job with a low cost airline, and 2 years later (at age of 21) is earning £50K+.

      All he had was GCSEs and A-levels – nothing spectacular!

      • Dev says:

        .. and another common fallacy is that Long-Haul pilots have more responsibility than short-haul pilots. In fact, the short haul guys have a more intense workload because of multiple sectors in a day (upto 4 x takeoff and landings, paperwork, briefings, etc). Finally, whether a pilot saves 90 lives on a E190 r or 400 lives on a 747, the end result is the same, the person saved lives!

        It just takes time to work your way up to the big planes as they fly to more desirable and glamourous locations.

      • Jon says:

        Can’t help feeling that any airline that got rid of all its highly-trained years-of-experience veteran pilots and replaced them with fresh-out-of-college 12-months-training wet-behind-the-ears young ‘uns might suddenly find itself facing a sharp spike in its number of accidents (or at least, errors, inefficiencies, close calls etc).

        It may well be possible to learn how to fly a plane in twelve months with just a few GCSEs and A Levels behind you. But it’s experience (and intellect / critical thinking) that teaches you how to diagnose and manage a problem, get out of (or better still, avoid) a tight spot, work effectively as part of a team, and all the other things that make for a safe flight.

        I think I’d rather have someone highly educated, skilled, and trained flying any plane I’m on, than having £100k as the criteria 😉

  • Dev says:

    With Airport Operations (having previously worked at Heathrow myself – not BA for clarity), a 10% pay cut (not counting the 11% reduction in hours and pay) can be easily recovered with overtime (unless BA are offering Time off in lieu instead?). It is a 24/7 365 days a year operation and planes will go tech, bad weather will affect ops and you can always rely on the occasional BA IT goof up. Overall, a decent deal for ground staff but lets not forget, they are not the most generously rewarded group of staff.

    • Paul74 says:

      Agreed. It’s good that the GMB is close to getting an acceptable deal for its members in the circumstances.

  • AJA says:

    My sympathies to all at BA facing reduced salaries or redundancy against their wishes but I think the reality is that they have to accept what BA is offering. It’s tough out there, the news that the UK is in recession means that the options are limited. I hope that the vaccination trials produce at least one that works as that really is the only way for the economy to recover.

  • Paul says:

    For some staff, an additional and permanent reduction of 10% in pay with no reduction in hours worked
    Five weeks of unpaid leave to be taken over Winter 2020/21
    No pay rises until 2023
    Introduction of variable shift lengths
    Reduction in the notice given to workers of their shifts
    Ability of BA to shorten or extend shifts by 30 minutes on the day

    Some of these are utterly Dickensian, shocking really and should send shivers up everyone’s spine that this is even possible.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Hyperbole if I’ve ever read it

    • Nick says:

      Paul, they’re actually not that bad when compared with what (some) legacy staff have today.

      It’s also not that unreasonable. The ‘30 mins extra’ would cover the late shift staying until 11pm for example, in the event that an inbound flight in the last wave is arriving late. How many people here would be the first to whinge if their bags were delayed because the evening shift had gone home? Some staff offer to stay in this situation today but aren’t allowed to because of the ‘union agreed’ contracts that prevent BA doing it.

      Thankfully I am paid slightly more than terminal staff, but I am facing a similar threat of redundancy at the moment. If I got an offer as they’ve been given (some unpaid leave this winter, static pay until Apr 2023, and a bit more flexibility required in working hours) but with the offer of keeping my job, I’d bite my employer’s hand off.

      • Lady London says:

        Good call on that @Nick.

        The name of the game in redundancy is to live to fight another day.