LONDON – easyJet (U2) Pilots have demanded a ‘vote of no confidence’ in easyJet’s (U2) COO Peter Bellew (54), who joined U2 from Ryanair (FR) in January 2020.
The demand comes following U2’s notification of 727 UK Pilot redundancies and that the closing of its bases at Newcastle, Southend and Stansted
BALPA, which represents over 90% of U2 Pilots in the UK, will, therefore, be carrying out a secret ballot this week closing at noon on Friday.
In recent days BALPA had stated that it knew that aviation was in the midst of the COVID crisis and expected U2 to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline recover.
On July 2, FR and BALPA agreed to a 4-year arrangement with pay cuts to preserve jobs during the airline’s recovery.
Newsletter sent to pilots
As indicated in its newsletters last week, BALPA will this week be surveying its confidence in Peter Bellew (54), easyJet’s COO recently appointed from FR.
This is not an action that BALPA takes lightly. It would never normally conduct an exercise that would target individual airline management in this way.
However, they believe that the actions of the COO from his appointment right through this crisis up to and including the current redundancy consultation have been so disingenuous and damaging to the airline, including their public image, and its employees, that they have little choice.
Ryanair COO’s Track Record
Since his appointment, the COO has:
- Misjudged the start of the COVID-19 crisis by criticizing the “hype going on around the virus” and encouraging “business as usual”.
- Plagiarised the Irish Taoiseach in a motivational speech to U2 staff.
- Tried to bypass U2’s recognised trade unions BALPA and UNITE by proposing his “Coronavirus Co-operation Agreements” direct to crew, who firmly and vocally rejected his swingeing cuts to terms and conditions – copied directly from FR contracts.
- Bypassed U2’s own operations planning and industrial relations departments in making the above proposals.
- Reorganised U2’s previously well trusted and well-regarded safety reporting lines to report to him rather than the CEO – against EASA best practice.
- Recommended cuts of up to 50% to safety critical easyJet functions such as FRMS.
- Proposed 727 United Kingdom pilot redundancies, a number which BALPA has seen no justification for aside from the airline crewing for winter levels and leaving the door open for zero-hours contract pilots next year.
- Endorsed a potential redundancy matrix with sickness absence as a primary reference – with potentially grave consequences for safety.
Bellew also materially misled U2 during his pre-employment interviews, according to the judgment by Judge Allen in Ryanair DAC vs Bellew from the end of last year.
Statement from BALPA
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said, “This is unusual if not a unique step for BALPA to take as we prefer to do our business around the negotiating table but pilot morale in easyJet has collapsed and we’ve been inundated with calls for a vote of no confidence in Mr. Bellew.”
Strutton also said, “I think easyJet is in a serious industrial relations mess and needs to start winning the hearts and minds of its pilots and other staff before it’s too late”.
BALPA encourages the Pilots to look out for the survey in their inboxes tomorrow and to reply immediately as it is planning on closing it by 12 noon this coming Friday.
BALPA will share the survey with its partner unions across the UK and Europe.