Willie Walsh blasts ‘blind and deaf’ union as Qatar rides to IAG’s rescue

BA announced up to 12,000 redundancies in April in response to the pandemic, which led to all but a handful of flights being grounded.

Union leaders are angry at BA’s plans to “fire and rehire” some cabin crew, forcing those that remain at the airline to accept inferior pay and working conditions.

“At the heart of this, you have a trade union that has refused to accept that this is a crisis that needs to be addressed,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Unite trade union has told everybody that this is a temporary issue that can be resolved by temporary measures.  You have a trade union that is blind and deaf to the reality of the challenge that we face.

“And anybody that doubts that just needs to look at the figures. A £711m loss in one quarter goes way beyond anything that has happened. Burning cash at a rate of £20m-a-day goes way beyond anything that has happened.”

He added: “The business has to be in a different shape in the future than it was in the past. There is no point looking back at the way BA was. Because we are never going back to that environment. It has to restructure itself to ensure that it can be viable in the future.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey urged IAG to step back from its “fire and rehire” plans.

“No other employer in the aviation sector is pursuing this course of industrial vandalism. [IAG] can afford to make better choices – it has billions in the bank and even plans to expand by purchasing another airline, Air Europa, which is hardly the act of a business on its knees,” he said.

“It has also chosen not to attack the workforces of the other airlines in its group such as Iberia and Aer Lingus. We cannot therefore see its assault on the workers of BA as anything other than a deliberate and opportunistic decision to reshape the airline for the financial benefit of the boardroom.”

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