Unite union members overwhelmingly back BA furloughs

Members of the UK’s biggest union have overwhelmingly voted to back a British Airways deal to furlough workers and preserve jobs.

Staff in the Unite union voted by 99% in favour in a ballot after the proposal was thrashed out last Thursday following long negotiations but remained subject to approval by a ballot of members.

The agreement aims to preserve jobs in the light of most flights being cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Under the deal, BA will introduce a modified version of the government’s job retention scheme, with workers furloughed on 80% of pay. However, unlike the government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings.

Workers will be able to divert their pension contributions into their pay for a short period of time  – contributions are between 9% and 18% of earnings.

There will be no unpaid temporary layoffs or redundancies during this period.

A redundancy process that had already begun has been halted.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite members at British Airways have recognised the seriousness of the situation facing the aviation sector during this unprecedented crisis, and so have voted to accept the deal negotiated by their union.

“Unite will continue to work on ensuring that members who are still flying remain fully protected.

“We will also continue to monitor the furlough arrangements throughout the coronavirus crisis.”

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