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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Anger over job cuts
Planes
British Airways planes waiting at Heathrow
Workers in the airline industry and their representatives have reacted with shock and pleas for help amid news of massive job cuts.

Several major airlines have announced they are to lay off large numbers of staff following last week's terror attacks in the USA.

Messages posted to a normally reliable moderated professional pilots' internet bulletin board summed up the feelings of many.

One worker, e-mailing from the the middle east, claimed BA was leaving messages on the answerphones of recently recruited staff, cancelling their appointment and advising them to ask for their old jobs back.

Anger

"The companies are quite naturally are telling those concerned "tough s***t" because of market uncertainties and lay-offs," it was claimed.

Bill Morris
Call for help: Bill Morris
"It is sadly only slowly beginning to sink in," another airline worker wrote, "just how badly the attack on the World Trade Center has impacted on our lives and how it will continue to do so."

Others angrily claimed that BA was using, in part, the temporary fall-off in passenger numbers caused by the New York terror attack to speed up planned job cuts resulting from alleged mismanagement.

But BA ground staff union representative Tim Lyle told the BBC: "I can't criticise the company in trying to make savings.

"The clear message to my members is we are going to do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies and I am getting positive signals from the company about that at the moment."

Optimistic

Christopher Darke, General Secretary of the airline pilots' union BALPA, is calling for government aid to soften the blow.


The New York attack was a bolt out of the blue. The airline industry is one with a great future, but we need help to see us through this crisis

Pilot's representative Christopher Darke

At a meeting with trade secretary Stephen Byers this morning Mr Drake asked the government to release the 1 billion raised by Passenger Duty Tax levied on ticket sales.

He told BBC News Online: "The New York attack was a bolt out of the blue. The airline industry is one with a great future, but we need help to see us through this crisis."

He said that the government provided cash to help the farming industry during the unexpected foot and mouth crisis. It should now do the same for the airline business.

Shoulder to Shoulder

The US government is to provide at least $5 billion to aid the US airline industry - with as much as $25 billion available in loans.

Mr Darke says he is "optimistic" that the government will act.

Transport and General Workers Union leader Bill Morris, whose union represents many BA cabin and ground staff, said after the meeting: "Our key message is a simple one.

" We stood shoulder to shoulder with the USA we must stand shoulder to shoulder with British industry and civil aviation in particular."

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