Grahame Morris MP spoke on the importance of employment rights and the prevention of job losses in this afternoon’s Westminster Hall Debate on the future of the aviation industry.
He condemned the ‘widespread use of abhorrent employment practices’ by employers in the aviation industry – namely fire and rehire.
British Airways’ initial pandemic response was to threaten to fire all of its 42,000 staff, and rehire roughly 30,000 of them on permanently reduced terms. Th inferior terms and conditions left some workers facing huge wage cuts of between 55-75%.
The Easington MP was involved in the Transport Select Committee’s questioning of Alex Cruz, former CEO of British Airways.
In his evidence, Mr Cruz reassured the Committee that an agreement had been reached with the unions, and there would be no need to issue new contracts.
Mr Morris said: ‘Frankly, Mr Lee, I believe Mr Cruz misled the Committee, because 850 British Airways cargo workers – forced to sign new contracts or be fired – have received pay cuts of 25%. British Airways are threatening to outsource this part of the business, while attempting to renegotiate and weaken the collective bargaining agreement with Unite. In response, these staff will start balloting for strike action tomorrow, I believe. I stand in solidarity with them, as a member of Unite the union, against the imposition of drastic cuts in their wages and living standards.’
The government promised in March to publish a plan for the aviation industry. Eight months on, they have yet to do so. The Easington MP asked the Minister when exactly a plan would be published, and asked whether he agreed that the government should seek to minimise job losses in aviation, while protecting pay and employment rights.
Mr Morris concluded: ‘I sympathise with the aviation industry, they’ve been hit hardest by Covid, and have been left in uncertainty. However, loyal and skilled staff should not pay the price for government failure and the pandemic. The disgraceful practice of fire and rehire must be banned.’