The pilots’ union has branded proposals by easyJet to use sick days as a factor when deciding who to axe as part of its wave of redundancies as “unnecessary and wrong”.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said that the airline had told pilot representatives it intended to use sickness as a “key component” in choosing which 727 pilots will lose their jobs.
Its general secretary Brian Strutton warned that the plans could put flight safety at risk.
Unnecessary and wrong
He said: “It is unnecessary and wrong that easyJet is intending to use sickness as a stick to beat its safety-critical staff.
“EasyJet has in the past rightly encouraged pilots to report in sick or fatigued if they are unfit to fly – that is in everyone’s best interest.
“Now to turn around and say that doing the right thing means you may lose your job could have a chilling effect on the safety culture in easyJet from now on.
“Not only that, but the timeframe easyJet intend to use includes the early coronavirus period when some people were getting sick or having to shield themselves and their families.
“Should these people be punished by losing their jobs too?”
Mr Strutton said that the union was yet to see any justification for the scale of job losses proposed by easyJet and vowed to resist any move to use the cronavirus crisis to “undermine easyJet’s reputation as a decent employer”.
The Luton-based carrier announced in May that it intends to reduce its workforce by up to 30% as it cuts the size of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic, following similar moves by other airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair.
EasyJet has around 15,000 full-time employees – including 8,000 based in the UK – meaning a maximum of 4,500 jobs are at risk.
But a spokeswoman for the airline denied that sickness was a “key component” and said that absence was one of a number of criteria being put forward in the proposals.
Talks at an early stage
In a statement the firm added: “EasyJet is fully committed to working closely and constructively with Balpa throughout the consultation process.
“We have put forward initial proposals for discussion as our talks are at an early stage.
“We would never put forward proposals which would compromise safety as we have an industry-leading safety culture, as Balpa acknowledges.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are focused on doing what is right for the long-term health of the company and our people so we can protect jobs going forward.”