'Black Friday' at British Airways as 10,000 staff are made redundant

Edmund Heaphy
·Finance and news reporter
·3-min read
British Airways planes parked at Terminal 5 Heathrow airport in London, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has taken the decision to advise British nationals against non-essential travel globally for an initial period of 30 days, and of course subject to ongoing review. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
British Airways plans to 'fire and rehire' thousands of cabin crew. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

More than 10,000 workers at British Airways are currently being made redundant, on a day unions at the airline have dubbed “Black Friday.”

British Airways said on Friday that around 6,000 staff have applied for voluntary redundancy, while union Unite has said that a further 4,000 workers are being “forced out.”

Noting that the consultation process was “ongoing,” the airline said it was not in a position to confirm the total number of redundancies. But unions said that staff were told to either accept a voluntary redundancy package or to risk losing their jobs by applying for new roles with lower pay.

Just two-thirds of cabin crew workers are expected to be retained at the airline as part of the process.

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British Airways has told its senior cabin crew that they will have to change their working patterns and take a 20% cut in their basic pay if they are rehired.

“This is a very bleak day for the incredible BA workforce and will go down in the history of the airline as the day that it put the interests of the boardroom ahead of its passengers and workforce,” said Howard Beckett, the assistant general secretary of Unite.

“Make no mistake, 4,000 loyal workers are being forced out of the jobs that they love today by naked, company greed,” he said.

A spokesperson for British Airways owner IAG (IAG.L) said that its half-year results, which saw the group post a pre-tax loss of €4.2bn (£3.8bn), “clearly show the enormous financial impact of COVID-19 on our business.”

“We are having to make difficult decisions and take every possible action now to protect as many jobs as possible,” they said.

Pilots at the airline last week voted to accept a package that will temporarily cut jobs and pay to avoid a larger number of redundancies.

The British Airline Pilots Association said that 85% of its members voted in favour of the deal.

There will be around 270 jobs axed and temporary pay cuts starting at 20%, the association said.

The pay cuts will eventually drop to 8% over the next two years and pay will return to current levels “over the longer term.”

READ MORE: British Airways pilots vote to accept job and pay cuts package

IAG came under heavy fire from unions and MPs after announcing the cost-cutting measures.

The company warned in April it had run out of other ways to save cash as the pandemic has hammered its revenue.

The transport committee of the House of Commons dubbed the way British Airways was treating employees during the crisis a “national disgrace.”

Referencing the airline’s cost-cutting measures, the committee said in a report that British Airways was engaged in a “calculated attempt to take advantage of the pandemic.”

The committee said the behaviour “falls well below the standards we would expect from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis.”

In April, British Airways used the government’s wage-subsidy scheme to furlough 30,000 staff until the end of May.

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