Unite the union has called on the government to urgently bring forward a “coherent strategy” for the aviation sector as a whole as potential job losses mount and hard-earned pay, terms and conditions are threatened.
Giving evidence at the transport select committee today (Wednesday 20 May), Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “If there isn’t revenue coming in to the industry it’s not just the airlines (affected), it’s the airports, it’s everything down the line and of course all the people that work there.
“We are extremely worried about the future, and that’s why we need to come together now to look at what plans we have to restart, to rebuild confidence.”
Potential job losses
The urgency for government intervention has been underlined by major employers in the aviation and the associated aerospace sectors announcing over 30,000 potential job losses in recent weeks. Companies including British Airways, Rolls-Royce and Virgin have all announced they are planning to make large numbers of workers redundant.
As part of the coherent strategy that Unite is advocating, the government would provide loans to airlines and airports with strict rules on how the money could be used. As part of this support Unite believes that key issues such as dramatically improved environmental standards, regional connectivity and public service obligations are hardwired into the government’s aviation strategy and embraced by its key players.
Unite has produced a comprehensive blueprint on how the government should provide support for the aviation sector in its document: UK Aviation Flying into the Future.
Bespoke package needed
Speaking after giving evidence Diana Holland said: “Over two months ago the government promised a bespoke package of support for the aviation industry; that is still to be delivered and time is running out.
“Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of jobs are under threat without specific government support, given the unprecedented effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the aviation sector.
“The aviation sector will return to viability once the UK emerges from the current pandemic and as an island nation it is critical to the future success of the economy.
“However, in order to survive this crisis there must be specific government support.
“The government should be using this opportunity to reshape the aviation sector as well as protecting jobs they should be requiring the industry signs up to strict standards to dramatically improve environmental standards, ensure regional connectivity and introduce clear public service obligations into the sector.
“Everyone has a part to play and Unite is absolutely clear that workers should not be paying the price by losing their jobs or having their pay and terms and conditions slashed.”