Construction workers at Manchester Airport have been ‘left high and dry, without pay’, by the construction company JCK and the Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greater Manchester’s ten councils, which have a 64.5 per cent stake in the airport, are providing a £250 million package to support the airport but have so far failed to intervene on behalf of the struggling workers.
Unite, Britain’s leading union, is calling on Manchester Airport Group (MAG) to use its influence to ensure the 70 skilled workers get financial support.
The union has also approached the Greater Manchester Councils which have a major stake in the airport, but the stakeholders are disgracefully abdicating responsibility for the workers. The only investor to have expressed any concern for the welfare of the workers is IFM, an Australian investment fund.
The construction of the Terminal 2 baggage handling system by Vanderlande was shut for safety reasons linked to the Coronavirus in late March. However, the mechanical engineers’ and skilled electricians’ precarious employment status means they are unable to access the government’s COVID-19 schemes and face genuine hardship with both the sub-contractor JCK and Manchester Airport washing their hands of responsibility.
One worker was even sacked from his job on the site after raising an issue related to COVID-19. His manager issued an angry WhatsApp message swearing and threatening the worker. Workers allege his treatment has created a culture of fear on the site leaving workers frightened to raise legitimate concerns.
Unite regional coordinating officer Andy Fisher said: “Dozens of skilled construction workers were left high and dry, without pay. Workers allege they have been threatened and abused and one was even sacked for raising concerns about COVID -19.
“It’s clear there is money available and it’s disgraceful that Manchester Airport, its council stakeholders and the contractors let these workers fall into hardship.
“When Unite raised the workers’ treatment, the Airport’s Australian investor thousands of miles away expressed its concerns, but closer to home Greater Manchester’s councils have done nothing.
“Many of the workers have been out of work for six weeks and while some workers have returned to the site, JCK is actively preventing the union from carrying out safety inspections.
“The treatment of these skilled workers is unacceptable, and we urge Manchester Airport Group and its stakeholders to meet with us to ensure this situation is resolved urgently.”