MANY are expected to safely take to the streets in Reading West today (August 6) to call for action from MP Alok Sharma over British Airways' response to Covid-19 struggles.

Employees say BA is intending to fire its workforce and rehire those that survive on inferior contracts, and more than 200 MPs have signed a pledge calling for government action.

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A socially-distanced protest is due to take place today in Upton Road, Tilehurst.

At 12pm, employees and constituents will gather to oppose what has collectively been deemed 'BA Betrayal'.

An organiser from Unite said: "British Airways are using this terrible health pandemic to make drastic and unnecessary permanent cuts.

"BA is a wealthy company that can probably afford to ride out the crisis.

"Instead they have chosen to take taxpayers money whilst decimating their British workforce.

"It is a disgrace that they are allowed to still carry the British flag."

He added that BA's policy was different to other companies.

"What BA is doing is completely different from other employers," he said.

"Unite negotiates with more than 38,000 employers and not one of them is essentially terminating the contracts of their entire workforce (42,000 staff) and re-hiring them on inferior terms and conditions."

Unite executive officer Sharon Graham said: "Boris Johnson's words of support for BA staff and his talk of 'jobs, jobs, jobs' is empty rhetoric unless the government acts.

"There must be consequences for British Airways' decision to press ahead with its plans to fire and rehire its workforce in the middle of the worst health crisis in a century.

"BA staff and constituents want to see action from Alok Sharma.

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"Public anger is growing and many MPs from across the political divide are already calling for a review of landing and take-off slots in response to BA's project fire and rehire.

"There should be consequences to BA’s actions. The company is essentially creating an unrecognisable airline – it should not automatically control over half the landing slots at Heathrow.

"It is simply wrong for BA to have privileged access to landing slots while its workforce is sacrificed for the benefit of shareholders."

A BA spokesman said: "For more than 100 years British Airways has been flying millions of people around the world. Today that world remains largely closed. 

"This is the biggest challenge the airline and our industry has ever faced.

"Sadly, the global pandemic has resulted in job losses across every industry. Many airlines have already made thousands of staff redundant. 

"We are not immune to this crisis. We have to adapt to survive, so 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 – as we have done with BALPA – and to protect jobs."