98.9% of BA’s Unite members back furlough job protection scheme
British Airways rushed to initiate a company-wide redundancy programme, despite access to cash, cash reserves and loans of £8.2 BILLION. Unite’s 23,000 members at BA across all airports and bases including Gatwick, Heathrow, London City and Cardiff were in real danger of losing their jobs. After tough negotiations, Unite Reps and officers reached an agreement that has secured posts until 31 May.
The scheme, based on the government’s Job Retention Scheme, provides 80% of salary and variable pay for 80% of all cabin crew, ground and check-in staff. The agreement removes the cap of £2,500 and also allows for workers to divert their pension contributions until the end of June into their take-home pay – adding an additional 9-18% of salary for members. Twenty per cent of workers will maintain a critical operation which will repatriate citizens, reunite families and deliver cargo including vital chemical and pharmaceutical goods.
The Job Retention Scheme is testament to excellent organising and leadership by lay officials and by Unite officers who negotiated the JRS with numerous layers of government.
The massive 98.9% vote from members in favour of the agreement reflected their understanding of the very real risk to jobs, with British Airways rushing to ideologically-driven redundancies and enacting ‘Lay off’ clauses in many of our members contracts.
As a union, we must remain on our guard for companies across all our sectors, who would rush to cull jobs – not just during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but afterwards, despite the contributions made by essential workers in our united efforts. The combined force of our members, reps, activists and officers, should hold to account the actions of all employers and recognise and protect essential workers. We will continue to remind the bosses of the contributions our members and our union have made – if they don’t remember – then the public, their customers, will.
*15,939 (98.9%) of Unite members voted to accept the scheme, with 176 (1.1%) of members voting to reject the scheme.