Unite has warned British Airways it is heading for “months of industrial unrest” unless it steps back from current restructuring proposals.
The union claimed BA’s strategy would “effectively force thousands of workers onto punitive and insecure zero hours-type contracts”.
Unite is due to hold a meeting for BA ramp, baggage and cargo staff still in negotiations about their futures on Thursday (20 August) in Feltham.
“BA’s claims that settlements have been reached with the workforce are a deliberate effort to mislead and cause division,” Unite claimed in a statement ahead of the meeting.
More than 6,000 BA staff including cabin crew, engineers, and airports staff have applied for voluntary redundancy, according to the airline.
Their decision followed BA’s announcement in April of intentions to axe up to 12,000 jobs company-wide due to the impact of Covid-19 – a move heavily criticised by unions and addressed by MPs.
Ahead of today’s meeting, Unite assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett said the carrier’s “appalling behaviour puts that of a Victorian mill owner to shame”.
"Make no mistake however, this fight is far from over. In fact it’s only just beginning. Despite BA’s deliberate efforts to mislead and divide, there can be no peace while this wealthy business is determined to make the lowest paid pay the highest price in an opportunistic restructuring while the better-off get to keep their pay and conditions," he said.
“This an employment scandal, and a very dark day for this country, where BA still pretends to lays claim to national carrier status.
"Unite is utterly determined that BA will not get away with this thuggery, and we will fight this grotesque abuse of decent working people with every tool at our disposal. If that means months of going through the courts and taking strike action to protect workers, so be it. BA has left these workers and its union no other choice."
In response, a BA spokesperson said: "For more than 100 years British Airways has been flying millions of people around the world. Today that world remains largely closed.
"Sadly, the global pandemic has resulted in job losses across every industry. This is the biggest challenge we have ever faced. Many airlines have already made thousands of staff redundant.
"We are not immune to this crisis. We have to adapt to survive, so we will continue with the proper, lawful consultative process and we will keep inviting union representatives to discuss our proposals to the serious challenges we face.
"It is not too late to find solutions – as we have done with [pilots union] Balpa – and to protect jobs."