I fully appreciate that this continues to be an extremely worrying and upsetting time for British Airways employees and their families.
Many BA staff live in the Aylesbury constituency and I am acutely aware that livelihoods are in jeopardy for many local people; conversations I have had with BA crew in recent weeks have underlined their anxiety and anger.
You will be aware that this issue has been raised in parliament on several occasions, and I personally supported the request for it to be the subject of a specific debate. Whilst I have unfortunately not been called to speak about it in the chamber myself, my colleagues from other Buckinghamshire constituencies have done so on behalf of all the county’s MPs, highlighting the grave impact BA’s decision will have.
I am particularly disappointed with the decisions that BA has announced given that the airline was benefiting from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This was not designed to fund the wages of employees only for companies to put the same staff on notice of redundancy during the furlough period.
There is no doubt that the aviation sector is facing serious challenges, and businesses must make commercial decisions as to their future viability. However a great deal of support has been made available to airlines including the deferral of VAT payments, the Covid Corporate Financing Facility and of course the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Organisations which do ultimately decide to make employees redundant should do so with fairness and transparency. Indeed, businesses are judged by the way they behave and by the way in which they treat their employees, and British Airways is no different. Consequently I hope that the airline’s management itself will reflect extremely carefully on the long-term impact on its reputation of carrying out these plans in their current form.
I will continue to monitor the situation closely and of course am always keen to hear the views of constituents who are affected.