International Airlines Group chief executive, Willy Walsh, has rejected claims British Airways is acting unfairly toward staff as it seeks to downsize in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The carrier was branded a “national disgrace” by the transport committee over the weekend.
It comes as British Airways seeks to lay-off 12,000 staff and adjust the terms of employment for thousands more.
Chair of the transport committee, Huw Merriman, said: “This wanton destruction of a loyal work force cannot appear to go without sanction – by government, parliamentarians or paying passengers who may choose differently in future.”
However, in a letter to Merriman, Walsh argued the airline was working well within the law.
“Much of your criticism is based on concerns that British Airways wishes to change terms and conditions to save jobs.
“British Airways is, at this stage, only proposing changes that it wishes to consult over with a view to seeking an agreement, as required by the Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992,” argued Walsh.
He added that this is an approach that was described as “perfectly lawful” and “the lawful way in which the law permits employers to change contracts of employment where they can’t reach an agreed variation with the employees” by the senior counsel of United in High Court proceedings against British Airways in 2010.
Walsh continued: “The approach that British Airways is taking, is in full compliance with the law and has been used by numerous employers for many years.
“Considering this, your criticism in unjustified.”
Unite has so far refused to engage with the airline over the current job-cutting plan.
Walsh went on to emphasised that British Airways “is fighting for its survival, in the face of overwhelming and unprecedented challenges, while respecting the fundamental British value of the rule of law.
“This is not a disgrace.
“Lying down and surrendering without a fight would be a disgrace and we will not do that,” he concluded.