Welsh British Airways workers 'betrayed' by plans to cut jobs and pay

British Airways workers in Wales have taken part in a protest against job losses and pay cuts.

Workers met in Bridgend for a socially distanced protest against proposals that could see almost half of BA staff in Wales unemployed.

One BA employee, who has worked for the airline for 24 years, says he now feels "betrayed."

"I've gone through the hardship - I've taken pay cuts before, I started on low pay," he said.

"You [BA] have got billions in the banks, just ride out the storm. Use the money you've got to fix the roof and keep us in a job and then the good times will come back agains. Make your billions again but don't get rid of hard, grafting labour like we've got here."

He says he is worried about how he will pay his mortgage if his wage is cut.

He said: "How can I turn around to the bank and say drop my mortgage by 40-45%? Working unpaid leave, without a wage coming in, they're going to take the house away, aren't they?"

British Airways announced in April that it would cut up to 12,000 jobs. Credit: PA

BA does not fly out of Wales but the airline does employ around 900 engineering and maintenance staff across three sites in Llantrisant, Blackwood and Cardiff Airport.

The company also employs cabin crew who live in Wales but work in airports outside of the country.

Almost 400 jobs are at risk in Wales as the airline grapples with "the biggest challenge the industry has ever faced."

Credit: PA

In a statement, BA said the company needed to adapt to survive.

"This is the biggest challenge the airline and our industry has ever faced. Sadly, the global pandemic has resulted in job losses across every industry. 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 BALPA - and to protect jobs.​"

The airline has been criticised by unions for a 'fire and rehire' approach.

Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: "There must be consequences for British Airways' decision to press ahead with its plans to fire and rehire its workforce in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century.   

"There should be consequences to BA's actions. The company is essentially creating an unrecognisable airline - it should not automatically control over half the landing slots at Heathrow.  It is simply wrong for BA to have privileged access to landing slots while its workforce is sacrificed for the benefit of shareholders."