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EasyJet looking at contract changes – BA pilots faced with taking unpaid leave

Both pilots and cabin crew have been asked by EasyJet to agree to changes in their work conditions because of the Coronavirus. British Airways has informed their staff that they will not be paying them for four weeks. This is made up of two weeks in April and a further two weeks in May.

The centre of the changes to terms and conditions include a freeze on planned pay rises along with three months unpaid leave. The airline’s staff and their unions have failed to reach an agreement with the airline although they will be putting forward counter proposals.

Both the unions and the airline have stated that they are willing to make necessary concessions in order to avoid redundancies. Talks between unions and EasyJet are continuing.

Under the new proposals neither crew nor pilots will be given food during shifts. They will still be able to drink water.

Also discussed by the airline and pilots’ unions Balpa and Unite a proposed coronavirus cooperation agreement was set out with changes to employees’ terms and conditions. This would be in place from 23rd March 2020 until 15th November 2021.

The new agreement would allow EasyJet to cancel all pay rises until 2021. The airline would also make major changes to work patterns and defer any pay increases to new captains for six months.

Pilots have reacted angrily to the new terms and conditions with union negotiators arguing that there is no evidence that ‘the current crisis warrants such great changes over an extended period.’

A spokesperson for the union Unite said that they are still in talks with the airline. He also stated that it was untrue that the union had rejected all the proposals put forward by the airline.

On talking to several employees of the airline, the BBC discovered that many staff feared the airline may be using the current crisis as an excuse to change the terms and conditions. Doing this will affect employees’ pay and benefits in the future.

A statement from EasyJet said that the company had met with the unions and representatives in the UK. Talks were held to discuss ways to help the airline during these ‘unprecedented times.’

EasyJet stated that like all airlines they routinely take action to remove non-critical expenses at every level of the business. They intend to do this to mitigate the impact which the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the airline.

The pilots who work for British Airways are now required to take two weeks unpaid leave in the months of April and May. A further letter to the pilots stated that required unpaid leave would be brought into play by implementing deductions from basic pay packages. This would happen over a three-month period.

Chief executive Alex Cruz announced to British Airways staff that there would be jobs cut and aircrafts grounded. He warned that the airline faced immense battles to survive the effects of the coronavirus pandemic with most air travel being grounded, and airlines brought to a standstill.

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