July 28, 2020 / 2:57 PM / 13 days ago

UPDATE 1-British Airways faces strike threat over job cuts

(Adds BA statement, Unite letter details)

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - British Airways faces strike action over its plans to cut jobs, pay and conditions, the trade union representing cabin crew said, piling more pressure on the airline which has been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis and quarantine rules.

Trade union Unite has written to British Airways to say it planned to defend its members by immediately moving towards industrial action, in what it said was a reaction to the airline’s plans to fire and rehire thousands of workers.

Any strike action would add to BA’s existing woes after Britain imposed a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from Spain on Sunday, dealing a blow to what is already a slow recovery in air travel being seen by BA and other airlines.

Asked about the possible industrial action, BA said it had to adapt to survive and called on the union to work towards finding a solution, as the airline has done with the pilot union BALPA, whose members will vote on a deal agreed with BA.

A BA spokeswoman said: “We will continue with the proper, lawful consultative process and we will keep inviting union representatives to discuss our proposals to the serious challenges we face. It is not too late to find solutions ... and to protect jobs.”

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey said in a letter seen by Reuters addressed to BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz and dated July 27 that BA planned to fire and rehire staff on Aug. 7.

“We will work every hour between now and then, to convince you not to do so,” McCluskey said, adding that the letter should be taken as an intention to move towards industrial action with immediate effect.

BA said in April that it would need to cut up to 12,000 jobs to survive the pandemic, which wiped out travel for months and which won’t recover for years.

It is currently flying only around 15% of its normal schedule and faces difficulties in its biggest markets, the United States and India, which are subject to UK quarantine rules.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Evans

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