Deal reached to lay off British Airways staff during Covid-19 crisis

A deal has been agreed to lay off British Airways staff because of the Covid-19 crisis, a union has announced.

Unite said the airline will introduce a modified version of the Government's job retention scheme, so that workers will be furloughed on 80% of pay.

Unlike the government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings, said the union.

Workers will be able to divert their pension contributions into their pay for a short period of time and there will be no unpaid temporary lay offs or redundancies, said Unite, adding that a redundancy process that had already begun has been halted.

Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said: "Given the incredibly difficult circumstances that the entire aviation sector is facing this is as good a deal as possible for our members.

"The deal protects the jobs of BA staff and, as far as possible, also protects their pay.

"This is what can and should be done to protect workers during this unprecedented time for the airline sector."

The deal will now be circulated to Unite's members at British Airways for their final approval.

It is understood that around 28,000 BA staff are affected by the agreement.

BA said in a statement: "Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.

"But with the challenges of coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them."

The deal agreed with unions affects more than 30,000 employees, who will be paid 80% of their salary plus 80% of allowances.

Workers are being contacted individually to explain how they are affected, with the scheme running to May 31.

British Airways has also reached agreement with its 4,000 pilots to take four weeks of unpaid leave in April and May.

Contact centre staff supporting customers with queries are unaffected.

GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: "GMB members working for BA are relieved to finally have some certainty after what has been an extremely worrying time.

"We believe the current deal secures this including guarantees of 80% of pay whilst furloughed, protection of terms and conditions and a 'pause' on the current redundancy consultation.

"But there are significant challenges for the aviation industry and whilst this current deal gives security for BA staff now, the Government can't take its eye off the ball.

"GMB is calling for more Government intervention to protect the livelihoods of many more workers across the sector."

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