Unite, which represents thousands of workers in the UK aviation sector, is calling on the government to fast-track an initial furlough payment for workers operating flights for the Norwegian airline in order to preserve jobs.
Norwegian airline challenges
It was announced today (Monday 20 April) that some of the European subsidiaries of low-cost airline Norwegian were entering into administration. While this does not apply to the UK operation the company also simultaneously terminated its arrangements with employment agency OSM, which employs around 1,200 workers on Norwegian’s UK operations.
Unite has already held meetings with OSM, which says that it is committed to preserving jobs but in order to do so it needs to receive a furlough payment from the government this week before its monthly pay date of (Saturday 25 April) in order to pay the workers and avoid facing further uncertainty.
Quick furlough payment
OSM and Unite believe that provided the workers are successfully paid under the furlough regime, jobs can be preserved for the long-term with a substantial base being retained at Gatwick airport.
Work is currently being undertaken in Norwegian’s host country of Norway to restructure the business. Provided this is successful, the UK operation will be viable once the pandemic crisis has ended.
Unite regional officer Claire Simpson said: “Unite is working closely with OSM to preserve jobs and to ensure that there is a sustainable base for Norwegian at Gatwick airport in the long-term.
“In order to preserve over 1,000 jobs Unite is urging the government to fast track OSM’s furlough payment request so that the affected workforce can be paid this month.
“The aviation sector has been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic but it can and will have a viable future provided it gets the immediate support from the government.
“Norwegian is a core part of Gatwick airport and securing the long-term future of these workers is vital for the airports long term well-being and the prosperity of the local economy.”