More BA workers reject cost-cutting plans

More British Airways workers have rejected the airline's plans to axe thousands of jobs and freeze pay, it was revealed today ahead of a crucial annual meeting of the company.

More British Airways workers have rejected the airline's plans to axe thousands of jobs and freeze pay, it was revealed today ahead of a crucial annual meeting of the company.

The GMB union, which represents thousands of BA staff including baggage handlers and check-in workers, said its members had opposed plans to make huge cost savings.

The workers were instead backing union proposals, which will be put forward when talks resume later this week.

Workers had also made it clear they were "disgusted" that the lowest-paid BA employees at Heathrow Airport, many of whom were women, were being asked to give up their family-friendly flexible working patterns and accept permanent change to their terms and conditions, said the GMB.

Officials said low-paid workers were being asked to "subsidise" the 3,000 BA employees who were paid between £115,000 (€133,922) and £740,000 (€861,757) a year, and the 1,000 staff paid between £80,000 (€93,163) and £115,000 (€108,510) who the GMB said had not been asked to make permanent change and cuts to their pay and share options plans.

National officer Mick Rix said: "The message is clear. The broadest backs must carry the heaviest loads and bear a bigger brunt of the savings. GMB members will actively engage with the company to explore and agree temporary alleviations to terms and conditions.

"GMB members are prepared to propose solutions to the company problems. However, why should our members, whose rates of pay can vary from £13,000 (€15,142) to £25,000 (€29,118) per year, accept permanent change and cuts, and continue to subsidise the highest earners, when the very highly paid in the company are not accepting permanent change and leading by example?"

The news emerged as unions prepared to stage a protest outside BA's annual meeting in central London, using live lemmings to drive home their message that staff should not have to follow the cost-cutting measures being pushed by chief executive Willie Walsh.

Letters will be handed to shareholders spelling out the changes BA are trying to make, including 3,700 job losses, a pay freeze and changes to terms and conditions unions said were unacceptable.

Members of Unite have also rejected the company's plans, although pilots have accepted a 2.6% pay cut.

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