'Angry and frustrated'
Norwegian Air workers slam broken redundancy pay promises and lack of answers over collapse
Norwegian Air workers are ‘angry and frustrated’ after recent assurances from the company that they would receive the required redundancy payments if it failed proved to be entirely false.
Instead, the more than 1,000 mainly Gatwick-based staff, 700 of whom are Unite members, have been left with nothing after Norwegian Air’s UK operations (NAR UK) went into liquidation last month. The workers, who are owed wages, notice pay, holiday pay and pensions contributions, are now having to launch claims with the government’s Insolvency Service.
The prospect of liquidation loomed over the airline in recent months, particularly in light of its Irish operations entering bankruptcy protection in November. Unite said that despite the warning signs, the company had failed to properly plan for the event, with its UK workers being ‘thrown under a bus’ as a result.
Unite also raised questions over why £10.5 million that was supposed to be paid to NAR UK last year by another part of the Norwegian Group was never received. The union called for any money owed to NAR UK to be located and made available to pay staff quickly and in full for the outstanding payments they are owed.
In the meantime, Unite is assisting members with making claims for the money they are owed. If Norwegian do not honour their commitment to pay the workers’ outstanding wages then the UK taxpayer will have to foot the bill.
Unite will also make a claim on behalf of its members for a protective award, for the failure of Norwegian to inform and consult its workforce before making them redundant. Again, in such cases the UK taxpayer will ultimately pick up the bill for the company’s failings.
Unite regional officer Jamie Major said, “Norwegian Air UK staff are angry and frustrated at the appalling way they have been treated by the airline’s leadership both here and abroad. Despite being promised in November they would be paid if the company entered into administration, they have been left with nothing.
“Our members want answers about what happened prior to NAR UK being liquidated,” he added. “Why, despite the mounting risk of collapse, was Norwegian Air so utterly unprepared? The company did not even fulfil its legal obligations to carry out redundancy consultations. This unpreparedness has led to staff being thrown under a bus.
“Why didn’t NAR UK receive the £10.5 million which was supposed to be paid to it last year by another part of the group? What happened to that money?
“We welcome all efforts by liquidators KPMG to locate any monies owed to NAR UK, which must go towards ensuring that staff are paid quickly and in full for what they are owed,” Major continued.
“The treatment our members have received from Norwegian Air is atrocious. Unite is doing everything in its power to support them at this very difficult time and we will be launching legal protective award claims against the company.”
By Ryan Fletcher