Shabana has written to the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma MP, regarding the employment status of British Airways employees.
Recent media reports and incoming correspondence from constituents has indicted that BA intends to move employees who have not been made redundant on to new contracts.
The reports indicate that around 14,300 cabin crew staff alone are being offered these new contracts which would alter the terms of their employment drastically.
Constituents and the media have reported that the new terms within these contracts will mean that staff can be laid off without negotiation at a later date.
Shabana has asked the Business Secretary what action the Government intends to take to prevent large businesses from exploiting employers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
You can read her letter in full below.
Letter to the Business Secretary
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing regarding serious concerns that have been raised with me by constituents in Birmingham Ladywood about the precarious situation facing British Airways employees.
While I understand and acknowledge the significant challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for the aviation sector, I am deeply concerned about the position many British Airways workers are now finding themselves in.
Recent media reports and correspondence from my constituents have indicated that British Airways are seeking to move employees who are not being made redundant onto new contracts. The reports indicate that around 14,300 cabin crew staff alone are being offered these new contracts which would alter the terms of their employment drastically. Unite the Union has assessed that these changes could leave workers with a pay cut of between £1,000 and £30,000 per annum. In addition, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has claimed that many of these new contracts will be zero-hours style due to the uncertainty facing the sector in the short and medium-term future.
Constituents and the media have reported that the new terms within these contracts will mean that staff can be laid off without negotiation at a later date. It has also been reported that employees who are unwilling to sign up to these new terms will face redundancy or dismissal. This would likely be on top of the 12,000 redundancies already announced by the carrier. If this is the case, I am sure you would agree with me that this is a completely unacceptable erosion of the workers’ rights of British Airways’ loyal workforce.
As you will be aware, last week British Airways’ owner, the International Airlines Group (IAG), revealed that the company currently has £8.7 billion worth of cash reserves. On top of this, British Airways has used UK Government support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough 22,600 of its workers since the pandemic began. I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify whether the government believes it is morally right for the airline to radically change its workers’ contractual rights and obligations in this way, particularly having taken advantage of such generous state support.
I am sure you will appreciate what an unsettling time this is for workers right across our country. In this vein, please could you clarify what action the government is going to take to prevent large businesses like British Airways from exploiting their workforce in this way. It goes without saying that British Airways has an additional responsibility to its UK workforce as our national flag carrier. Currently, I do not believe that the position the company is putting its workers in is in line with the British values we all share.
I am copying this letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, so that he is also made aware of the concerns I have raised.
Thank you for looking into this matter – I look forward to hearing from you.
Shabana Mahmood MP