BA boss signals ‘fire and rehire’ plan U-turn

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The chief executive of British Airways has told MPs that it sees no need to ‘fire and rehire’ cabin crew on inferior terms.

Speaking to the transport select committee this week, Alex Cruz said the firm would not issue new contracts, subject to the outcome of consultations with staff, and said it had reached an agreement with union Unite – with which it has been embroiled in a dispute with for several months – in a “majority” of areas.

Cruz said the company had been facing “difficult decisions” and hoped union members would accept the terms of its new deal.

Earlier this year, Unite accused the airline of planning to dismiss staff and rehiring them on contracts that would see their pay cut by up to 50%. It is seeking to cut around 13,000 jobs.

However, Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett claimed Cruz had “misled” the transport committee by indicating that the plan to rehire staff on different contracts was completely off the table.

“There are still too many BA workers facing threats to their wages and working life. These threats should be withdrawn today,” said Beckett.

“MPs and the select committee need to be aware that Alex Cruz’s comments to the committee earlier are not entirely correct. This is a very important matter and we would not wish MPs and the select committee to get the wrong impression. To be clear, the fire and rehire threat still hangs over some BA workers.

“Draft agreements with British Airways will not be finalised by Unite until members have voted on them and agreed to changes in their contracts.

“Even if agreements are reached and finalised in all of British Airways sectors, this does not herald industrial peace. Any changes in contracts should have been of a temporary nature and once British Airways returns to profit, the cuts in pay and conditions should be immediately restored.”

This week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on the government to outlaw “fire and rehire” policies, which he said “hit working people hard”.

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