Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has today (Tuesday) accused Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus’ regional service, of cynically ditching its workforce at Southend airport, during the coronavirus crisis.
Over 30 Unite members employed as cabin crew will be laid off without pay for an initial four week period from tomorrow (Wednesday 1 April).
The flights are to European and regional destinations including Antwerp, Manchester, Edinburgh and Newquay.
Unite sought to follow the procedure, which has become the norm for the aviation industry, that the workers were furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme and therefore would receive 80 per cent of their pay.
Stobart Air has refused to implement the furlough option citing “cashflow issues” and has also declined to seek further financial assistance from the government.
Unite is concerned that Stobart Air is forcing workers onto unpaid leave in the hope that they will find permanent alternative work so that they are not replaced and redundancy costs are minimised.
Unite regional officer Jo Jaques said: “Stobart Air has taken the cynical decision to ditch its workforce without pay.
“It is well known that the aviation sector is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the coronavirus. However, while most of the sector is doing the right thing in using the government’s scheme and standing by their staff, this is not the case for Stobart Air.
“Stobart Air needs to immediately reverse this decision and immediately furlough our members who otherwise will be left literally penniless with no way of feeding their families and paying their mortgages or rent.
“Stobart Air’s actions reflect very poorly on Aer Lingus, a famous name in the aviation sector, who it would be hoped will look very dimly on the way one its key contractors has decided to treat its workforce.”