British Airways crew refuse to work over safety fears

The move came as the RMT transport union said bus and rail workers should stop work on safety grounds if they were not protected from Covid-19.

The BA staff said adequate protective equipment had not been issued to staff which was needed because they were unable to stay the required 2m away from passengers.

The group of about 25, which has raised an action against BA, also said some staff were being forced to work while many of those volunteering to work had been furloughed.

They also fear some will be paid less for working, because of the terms of their contracts, than those who have been furloughed.

One cabin crew member with 30 years’ service told The Scotsman: “The situation is absolute chaos. It’s horrendous.

“Staff have been selected to work at random.”

The staff member, whose routes include Edinburgh and Glasgow to Heathrow, said: “It’s put them under mental stress and some have had mental breakdowns – it’s like playing Russian roulette.

“BA has no compassion whatsoever.”

Another staffer said cabin crew had not been given enough hand sanitiser to last during return flights, and toilets had to be shared with passengers.

A further source said: “British Airways opened a volunteer list so crew who do not look after disabled relatives and so on could come forward.

“They subsequently furloughed people on that list so they are short of crew.

“Managers have been furloughed so crew can’t get support.

“They are supplying one bottle of 70ml hand sanitiser for an entire crew.

“There are approximately 700 crew who commute from Glasgow who can’t get to work as there Is only one flight every alternate day.”

BA has reduced its normally multiple daily Heathrow-Glasgow flights to just four a week.

Flights on the Heathrow-Edinburgh route have been cut from some 11 a day to six a week.

There are now only three a week between Aberdeen and Heathrow.

The staff group has issued a “notice of grievance declaration and dispute proceedings” against BA under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

This stated that an employee has a right not to be subjected to serious danger.

The notice said the staff would “refuse any assigned work as cabin crew member on board your aircraft until further notice, and until I judge the danger has subsided.”

BA declined to comment on the notice, which it has received, or the furlough concerns.

A spokesperson said: “We follow all the guidance from the UK Government and global health authorities, including Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.

“We have taken several steps to greatly reduce contact between customers and crew, and personal protective equipment plus sanitiser is available to them.

“Like other forms of transport, we are keeping vital links open – repatriating customers and ensuring key supplies like medicines and food are flown in.

“Our teams are doing an amazing job.”

Meantime, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Today we have issued advice to our members in the rail and bus sectors that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from Covid-19.

“That means if they are not provided with personal protective equipment, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary, they should not be working.

“Our members are increasingly concerned that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against Covid-19.”

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