Sharon Graham to David Lammy

Sharon Graham to David Lammy on British Airways: Supporting bad bosses is a new low for Labour

  • Sunday 26 June 2022 

The leader of Unite the union has hit back at the comments by David Lammy MP, Labour shadow foreign secretary, made today (Sunday) that he would not support Unite’s members at British Airways who are fighting to restore the 10 per cent cut from their pay by the airline during the pandemic.

Responding, Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “David Lammy has chosen to launch a direct attack on British Airways workers. This is a group of workers who were savagely attacked by their employer during Covid. ‘Fire and rehire’ led to thousands of unnecessary job cuts and pay being slashed. 

“This dispute is not about a pay rise – it’s about restoring money taken out of workers’ pockets by an opportunistic employer. British Airways and its parent company IAG hold billions in reserves and assets and are predicting a return to profit this quarter. 

“Supporting bad bosses is a new low for Labour and once again shows that politicians have failed. It is now down to the trade unions to defend working people. We are their only voice.”

David Lammy then made a U-turn on this, as reported in the Daily Mail; he had ‘misheard’:

“But Mr Lammy has now backed down and apologised for his previous comments.

He posted on Twitter: ‘Those of us in public life should admit our mistakes.

‘That’s why I’m apologising to all BA workers for getting it wrong on Sunday.

‘BA must restore the pay of their loyal workforce – and the Government must sit down with employers and workers to address chronic low pay in aviation.’

Mr Lammy also penned a letter to constituents in which he claimed to have ‘misheard’ the question in the TV interview.

‘When she said that workers wanted to reverse a previous pay cut of 10 per cent, I mistakenly understood it to mean that they were seeking an above-inflation pay rise,’ he wrote.

‘I was not across the details of the case. It is right that those of us in public life admit when they have made a mistake. With this in mind, I apologise to all BA workers.

‘During the pandemic, BA workers were threatened with shameful “fire and rehire” tactics and had their pay slashed.

‘That’s why I supported Labour’s call for “fire and rehire” to be banned in 2020, as well as aviation sector support with a clear commitment to protect skilled workers and working conditions in the industry.'”

Update: On 7th July BA employees received a much improved offer which they accepted. Well done Unite!

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