Airliner easyJet announces jobs cull

Unite: easyJet jobs threat underlines urgent need for government support for UK aviation

Reading time: 4 min

Budget airliner easyJet this morning (May 28) has announced job cuts of up to 30 per cent of its workforce, in the latest blow for workers in the civil aviation industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.

The airliner said it would begin consultation with its employees, with up to 4,500 of a total workforce of 15,000 at risk of losing their jobs – but Unite has highlighted that the union was not consulted about these plans before this morning’s announcement.

EasyJet’s fleet has been grounded since March 30, with its workforce furloughed, and the airline said it plans to resume flights on a limited number of routes from June 15.

Unite slammed the decision, noting that the government’s job retention scheme covers wages for furloughed workers until the end of October – and that the airline is also being supported by a state-backed loan.

“The announcement that easyJet is planning to make 30 per cent of its workforce redundant is an unnecessarily hasty decision,” said Unite officer for easyJet Lindsey Olliver.

“The workforce is currently furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme and the airline will continue to receive support until at least October,” she added. “It has also received a government backed loan of £600m and has committed to expenditure on new aircraft.

“Unite has not yet been consulted about easyJet’s plans and does not at this stage have details about where in the business the job losses are planned,” she went on to say.

“Unite will be seeking clarification from the company and will maintain that any proposals to reduce jobs could and should be delayed.”

The latest announcement from easyJet comes after a number of airlines have proposed job cuts amid the crisis, despite all being entitled to furlough their employees until the end of October.

Earlier this month British Airways announced it would be making 12,000 people redundant and that it plans to sack and rehire the rest of its workforce of more than 42,000 people on new contracts that could see their pay slashed by 70 per cent.  Unite is now fighting these cuts with a new campaign.

Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson noted the latest easyJet job cuts coming in the wake of job losses at other airlines “again demonstrates why it is imperative that the government urgently brings forward a bespoke plan to provide assistance to the UK’s aviation sector”.

“The UK is an island nation and aviation is strategically crucial for the long-term economic success of the country,” he added. “Aviation needs urgent financial support to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it cannot simply be left to the market to sort out.

“It is the sector which has been most affected with flights being effectively halted, and without government support the sector it will take decades to recover seriously damaging the local and regional economies which rely on aviation for their financial success.”

In addition to Unite’s specific campaign against British Airways proposals, which the union has labelled a ‘betrayal’, Unite has also published a blueprint for the aviation sector.

The plan outlines how the government can intervene across the entire sector, including both airlines and airports, to protect jobs and conditions for workers. Unite believes this should be in the form of loans with strict conditions attached on issues such as executive pay, corporate governance, and environmental standards to radically improve the industry’s carbon footprint.

You can read the blueprint here.  

By Hajera Blagg

Related Articles