The leader of the country's most influential trade union, Len McCluskey of Unite, has today (Monday 3 August) said that the deal offered to British Airways' pilots would be acceptable to tens of thousands of crew and staff members currently threatened with drastic ‘fire and rehire’ proposals.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme earlier, Len McCluskey accused the airline of ‘industrial thuggery' and said that on behalf of the tens of thousands of Unite members threatened with either signing far inferior contracts or dismissal altogether 'I will accept the pilots' deal, but we are not being offered it.'

Last week, BA struck a deal with its pilots, which would preserve the wages of a significant number of the pilot corp. Unite claims that BA has adopted a more constructive and transparent approach with its pilots which it refuses to bring to discussions concerning crew and other airline staff.

Commenting after the Today programme, Len McCluskey added: "The reality is that the pilots were never faced with the drastic ‘fire and rehire’ strategy that is being imposed on the overwhelming majority of the BA workforce.

"We have said all along that BA's boardroom had a wider agenda, which was to use this pandemic crisis to drive down the terms and conditions of crew and staff, with some losing over £20,000 from their salary, as part of a long-term ambition to reposition BA as a low cost airline in all but name.

"The damage that this is doing to UK aviation and the distress this is causing the workforce are made worse by choices of the airline’s bosses, choices that remind us all that it is not in the dire straits it claims. 

“The purchase of another airline, Air Europa, the assistance package to support the staff and operations of Iberia and Aer Lingus, and now this deal with the pilots all show that BA can take a longer-term view about the recovery of the business when it chooses to.

"Yet it has chosen to go to war with some of the lowest paid and most dedicated staff it employs, causing widespread revulsion among MPs and customers, trashing the airline's brand and putting its access to lucrative slots at risk.

"BA is indulging in industrial thuggery. It should and could end this strife now.  

“I say to Willie Walsh, put the deal that you have agreed with pilots to the rest of the staff, and in doing so join with us as together we find a constructive and fair way through this crisis."


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.


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