Airport chaos

Unite: airport chaos will continue if aviation industry’s treatment of workers doesn’t improve

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The chaos and staff shortages afflicting UK airports will continue unless the aviation industry improves the way it treats its workers, Unite said today (Monday 4 April).

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “We warned the aviation sector repeatedly not to use the cover of Covid to slash jobs and pay. This would render it unable to meet demand when passengers returned.

“Now the sector is suffering from a chronic inability to attract new staff because workers are not attracted to an industry where pay is poor and conditions are lousy,” she added.

“Bargain-basement wages and insecure jobs must be consigned to the past if the sector wants to get back on track,” Graham continued. “It is pretty simple – if you want to thrive, treat your workers with respect and don’t attack their jobs, pay and conditions.”

While there were reports of airport chaos at multiple airports across the UK, Manchester Airport was under particular strain, with passengers reporting missing their flights after long queues at security and check-in because of staff shortages.

Commenting about the specific situation at Manchester Airport, Unite regional officer John O’Neill said, “There are a number of factors causing the current recruitment problems at Manchester Airport.

“Firstly, the aviation sector was badly and immediately affected when lockdown was imposed in March 2020,” he noted. “At the time, the government promised a comprehensive support package for the industry which the sector is still waiting for two years later.

“Thousands of workers at the airport were furloughed or made redundant. However, as the economy recovered, many workers found other jobs which paid similar wages, without the unsocial hours which could see shifts at the airport starting at 3.00am. Basically, their work/life balance vastly improved.

“Although pay rates at Manchester Airport are back to 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the airport is now faced with a recruitment crisis as the pent-up demand for air travel and holidays comes to the fore in the run-up to Easter,” O’Neill continued. “There are currently not enough staff to deliver all the complex services, such as security, you expect at an international airport.

“We are working very closely with the management at Manchester Airports Group to seek a resolution to the recruitment issues – obviously, increased pay and more attractive rostering are elements that need to be considered.”

By UniteLive team

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