British Airways workers are calling for Bob Neill MP to take “concrete action” over the airline’s plans to fire staff, rehiring those remaining on inferior contracts.
MPs labelled BA’s plans a “national disgrace” in June, accusing the company of taking advantage of the pandemic by making 12,000 staff redundant while changing the terms of employment for those who survive.
Workers gathered in Bromley town centre on Saturday, urging the Bromley and Chislehurst MP to join calls for a review of the airline’s landing and take-off slots.
Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: “Boris Johnson’s words of support for BA staff and his talk of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ is empty rhetoric unless the Government acts.
“There must be consequences for British Airways’ decision to press ahead with its plans to fire and rehire its workforce in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century.
“BA staff and constituents want to see action from Bob Neil. Public anger is growing and many MPs from across the political divide are already calling for a review of landing and take-off slots in response to BA’s project fire and rehire.
“Why isn’t Bob Neil?
“There should be consequences to BA’s actions. The company is essentially creating an unrecognisable airline – it should not automatically control over half the landing slots at Heathrow.
“It is simply wrong for BA to have privileged access to landing slots while its workforce is sacrificed for the benefit of shareholders. Boris Johnson needs to take back control from BA and fight for British jobs.”
The airline’s owner IAG announced in April that it would cut up to 12,000 jobs out of a total of 42,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Unite claims the company is planning to rehire remaining employees on downgraded terms and conditions if an agreement cannot be reached.
British Airways has said it is “acting now to protect as many jobs as possible”.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh told Parliament’s transport committee in May it is taking action that is “absolutely necessary to secure the survival of British Airways”.
British Airways chief executive, Alex Cruz, will appear before the committee next month.
Responding to the union, Mr Neill labelled the airline’s plans as “deplorable”, pointing out that he had raised the issue with the Department of Transport previously.
He said: “I have been in correspondence with a large number of local BA employees in recent months and understand the considerable anxiety this deplorable ‘fire and rehire’ plan is causing many families, at what is an already difficult time.
“Although I do not underestimate the financial pressure the aviation sector is under, the current purchase of Air Europa by IAG, BA’s parent company, as well as the cash reserves and deposits it holds, rightly call into question its claims of financial hardship.
“I have raised this issue repeatedly with the Department for Transport, I have sponsored an application for a debate in the House of Commons on it, and I will continue to make the case for all those affected – many of whom have given years of service to BA, and in the case of pilots, incurred much training debt, to fly for our national airline.”