Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, has appeared before the Transport Select Committee.
High Peak MP Robert Largan joined colleagues in cross-examining Mr Walsh on the implications of Coronavirus for British Airways and the aviation sector.
This was a wide-ranging discussion, covering issues such as the future of the aviation industry, Government support for the sector, refunds to customers, and protections of workers and passengers.
Robert used this session to ask Mr Walsh a series of questions to clarify his decision-making, including:
“A lot of my constituents work at British Airways, and a lot of them, particularly legacy staff on older contracts, are very concerned that a lot of this is about restructuring the company and their contractual terms and conditions in a way that you might have desired anyway.
“I want to give you an opportunity now to comment on that further, and give a bit more reassurance to your legacy staff.”
Robert proceeded to ask about changes to the size of cabin crews and the timing of changes to staff contracts:
“BA has had quite a number of issues with industrial relations over the last few years and, obviously, right now the unions are in quite a weak position given that they are not really able to meaningfully threaten any strike action. Is that an extra reason for you acting now?”
Afterwards, Robert Largan MP commented:
“This was a useful opportunity to engage with the head of the International Airlines Group and raise the worries and concerns of BA staff who live in the High Peak.
“In a firm exchange, I challenged Willie Walsh on BA’s proposed redundancies and changes to staff contracts.
“Businesses have a responsibility to do the right thing by their employees as much as by their shareholders. I am sceptical about the assurances provided, and I will continue to fight for everyone in the High Peak.”