British Airways drops ‘fire and rehire’, negotiates with unions

British Airways (BA) CEO Alex Cruz assured the UK’s Transport Select Committee that the company would not issue any new employee contacts. The controversial topic, known as BA’s  ‘fire and rehire’ strategy, had previously caused a significant backlash from the public.

Addressing the MPs on September 6, 2020, Cruz said that the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the business and that the job cuts were necessary to survive.

“Fewer passengers means fewer flights, and fewer flights means fewer people required to actually service them,” Cruz said in response 12,000 jobs cuts announced in April 2020 causing a national backlash.

“I deeply, deeply regret that way too many loyal and hardworking colleagues of mine are having to leave our business, and I understand why MPs are concerned,” Cruz added.

The CEO also expressed regret that it took 73 days for the workers’ unions and the airline to begin negotiations. However, MP Sam Tarry responded to that saying, “I would argue that if you hadn’t put a metaphorical gun to their head, then that might not have happened.”

Of the 12,000 announced redundancies, 6,000 employees had already opted for voluntary leave by August 7, 2020. In contrast to initial plans drawn out by the company to ax the remaining 6,000 staff, Cruz told the committee that in the end, BA did not ‘need’ to reach that number. How this will affect employees’ future job security and wellbeing still remains uncertain.

According to Cruz, BA is currently operating at around 25-30% of its flight schedule compared to 2019. The recovery is slower than anticipated. The airline had initially expected to have returned to around 50% of its traffic capacity by mid-September 2020.


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