In a communication to its members, the Unite union has said it is concerned about the mental health of its members after being alerted that some staff feel the only way out is to “end it” so their family can benefit from a death in service payout.
It comes after what Unite, which represents Cabin Crew and Ground Staff, called a “disgraceful announcement” on Tuesday night when the airline announced it would have to make sweeping job cuts.
In addition to the job cuts the airline say it would effectively be tearing up all contracts and the staff that were eligible to to be reemployed would need to sign new contracts with different pay and conditions.
British Airways says that it needs to make the cuts in order to streamline the airline’s operations to aid with recovery from the Coronavirus Pandemic which has crippled the industry.
A legal challenge to the cuts is being made by Unite as the airline had pledged no redundancies as it furloughed thousands of staff under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. A petition calling on the Government to bring the airline to account has so far received almost 150,000 signatures.
Unite says that British Airways sent this announcement “with the knowledge that most line-managers are also furloughed and so could offer NO assistance.” offering just a support centre for contact, manned by staff who were also affected by the announcement.
As a result, Unite said it was “of great concern and upset that we have received reports from concerned colleagues alerting us to people at risk, thinking that the only way out is to ‘end it’ so the family can cash in on their death in service, as that is the only way to keep their home.”
The union reiterated its support for members and asked them not to suffer in silence. Crews can also call The Samaritans on 116 123 for help if they are feeling desperate.
The sense of shock for the crews has been echoed in the public also and the way this has been handled has potentially long-lasting affects for the British Airways brand which is owned by Spanish airlines group, IAG.
Unite also produced a rather more tongue in cheek letter to British Airways Chief Executive Alex Cruz which is best read in its entirety.
If you feeling suicidal or depressed as a result of impending job losses then help is available. As well as support from your union you can also turn to: