The shock announcement by British Airways that it is to make 12,000 UK workers at the airline redundant without any consultation has been denounced as `unlawful and immoral' by the UK's leading aviation union, Unite, and should be withdrawn.

Shock decision

The union is also warning today (Wednesday) that BA's shock, unilateral decision to abandon the principles and intent of the job retention scheme and instead make workers redundant undermines the work that Unite and the industry have been doing with government to secure a financial package and strategy for the entire sector spanning airlines, airports and air traffic control, as well as addressing industry-related environmental concerns.

The sheer scale of the job losses, which will see a quarter of the airline's workforce sacked, will also make the UK aviation sector, already very fragile as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, extremely unstable putting many thousands more jobs across the country, not just at BA, at risk.

Withdraw notices

Unite is calling upon the airline to withdrawn the redundancy notices issued out of the blue yesterday (Tuesday) and engage with government and the union to take forward the sector-wide aviation rescue plan currently under discussion.  

Calling on BA's CEO Alex Cruz to think again, the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey said: "BA's decision to ignore the principle and intent of the job retention scheme and instead throw 12,000 workers onto the scrap heap is both unlawful and immoral.

"It is unlawful because they are denying these workers the meaningful consultation that the law and common decency says that they are owed.  

"It is immoral because BA has been taking taxpayers' money in recent weeks, money supplied on the proviso that the company put the workers on furlough while the industry reshaped.  

"Instead, BA has taken a unilateral and selfish action that could imperil an already very fragile aviation industry - and so a great many jobs - in this country.

"UK taxpayers have not handed over their money to BA for it to embark on an opportunistic course of slashing jobs, conditions and wages, and potentially jeopardising jobs right across aviation sector.

"BA built its reputation on being the `world's favourite airline' but by pursing this needlessly drastic course it risks becoming better known as the destroyer of UK jobs and aviation.

"We say to BA that there is a better way forward for both it and the industry.  We urge it to think again.

"I therefore call on BA to honour the law, remove this threat of redundancy today and join with us to work with the government and aviation industry to deliver the rescue package so desperately needed by the whole sector."

Aviation blueprint

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps setting out what steps Unite believes need to be taken to secure the long-term viability of the UK aviation industry. 

 ENDS

Notes to editors:

 During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.