Protesters pack Shoreham town centre to oppose British Airways redundancies

Dozens of campaigners packed Shoreham’s East Street on Tuesday (August 4) to protest a controversial ‘firing and rehiring’ policy by British Airways.

Galvanised by union Unite, demonstrators gathered outside East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton’s Shoreham office to garner his support in opposing sweeping cuts to BA’s workforce.

The company’s intention to make many of its staff redundant and rehire some on inferior contracts has drawn criticism, as it struggles with the economic fallout of coronavirus.

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Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: “Boris Johnson’s words of support for BA staff and his talk of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ is empty rhetoric unless the Government acts. 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.  

Protesters gather in Shoreham's East Street to oppose British Airways redundancies SUS-200708-081927001

“BA staff and constituents want to see action from Tim Loughton. Public anger is growing and many MPs from across the political divide are already calling for a review of landing and take-off slots in response to BA’s project fire and rehire.”

Ms Graham said BA should lose its automatic control of half the landing slots at Heathrow, claiming the company should not have ‘privileged access’ while sacrificing its workforce. 

Mr Loughton met with campaigners and signed their pledge. He said BA needed to ‘stop using the pandemic to cut jobs and weaken the terms and conditions of its remaining employees’.

“Their situation demands cross-party backing so I am pleased to work with the Unite trade union locally and my Parliamentary colleagues up in Westminster to support our BA employees,” he said.

A spokesman for BA said the covid crisis was the biggest challenge the airline and industry has ever faced, resulting in thousands of job losses industrywide.

“We  are not immune to this crisis,” said the spokesman. “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.”