logo Member of Parliament for Glasgow East

Action needed on British Airways

Published on

There is no doubt that coronavirus has hit our economy hard and that many jobs are on the line. Among the many companies of concern is British Airways.

Recently, my inbox has been full of correspondence from customers and staff of the airline, wishing to make sure that I know how the company is currently acting towards its staff.

British Airways is seeking to make its entire workforce redundant—essentially dismissing 12,556 of its employees and attempting to 'fire and re-hire' the remainder of its 42,000 UK workforce, all on vastly reduced pay, terms and conditions.

British Airways' behaviour clearly lacks any commitment to social or ethical responsibility, and is blatently motivated by profit margins. If our economy stands any chance of recovering, we need strategies that focus on ordinary people, not shareholders.

That is why I have now written to the Prime Minister about this outrageous situation. He must not stand by and allow these practices to take hold on his watch.

Read my letter to the Prime Minister below:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the recent announcement by British Airways to make its entire workforce redundant. The company is essentially dismissing 12,556 of its employees and attempting to 'fire and re-hire' the remainder of its 42,000 UK workforce, all on vastly reduced pay, terms and conditions. The motives are clear.

Some within the senior management of IAG based in Spain are intent on penalising workers by bullying their own staff into accepting vastly reduced contracts and pay (up to 68% less) and conditions of employment, solely to supplement or increase future profit. What makes this particularly galling is the blatant misuse of a national crisis as cover, for what is obviously a long-held plan.

These predatory aspirations are also being funded by a cynical misuse of the Government’s 'furlough scheme' which was designed to safeguard jobs and a misuse of public funds and government backed loans in doing so.

This is an outrageous act of impunity on the part of the company and I know from my constituents that BA and their Spanish owners IAG are acting completely at odds both with the public mood and the spirit the country has been asked to embrace. No one has called or written to accept, let alone applaud BA’s management of this crisis. The opposite is true.

The public do not want to see a major UK institution attacking their own workforce in such a way, whilst we as politicians look on. Everyone is aware that sacrifices will have to be made, but each has to be proportionate to the problem faced and corporate shareholders will be expected to bear the burden as much, if not more, than any other stakeholder, including employees.

As well as British Airways staff, I have had customers, both corporate and individuals, complaining to me about the actions of this company. Increasingly people do not want to be associated with such behaviour or with a company that clearly lacks any commitment to its social or ethical responsibility. When what is a highly profitable business with vast assets and cash reserves decides to behave in this way, it is clearly a betrayal of the reputation of UK PLC as a whole.

It is also important to note that Willie Walsh’s recent claims regarding the necessity for such drastic cuts, blaming the seriousness of BA’s supposed financial position and made in a letter to you, have been robustly refuted by those representing staff. I can send a copy of the counter arguments, including financial analysis to you at any time.

Therefore, I would like your assurance that if the situation does not dramatically improve and if BA continues to fail the national interest, that you will look to act and to specifically consider the following options:

  • A complete review of the flight ‘slot’ allocation at UK airports and in particular Heathrow and the proportion allocated to British Airways.
  • This would include existing slots, and involve investment incentives and penalty clauses to ensure that all operators act in the interest of the UK as a whole.
  • Investigate all options to take back control of UK branding from British Airways, a company that is now clearly run from Spain.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

David Linden MP


coronavirus employment