'Crisis of aviation industry's own making'

Unite warns airport chaos will last entire summer season

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Chronic staff shortages cannot be overcome as employers continue to offer low wages and poor terms and conditions to new staff.

Aviation industry is “paying the price of mass sackings during the pandemic”.

Unite, which represents tens of thousands of aviation workers, expects that the delays at most major airports that occurred during the Easter holidays will be repeated next week during the half-term holidays and will be even worse during the summer holidays.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “During the pandemic when airline operators, and others in aviation, slashed jobs to boost corporate profits we warned this corporate greed would cause chaos in the industry. The aftermath of mass sackings is now chronic staff shortages across the board. Aviation chiefs need to come clean with the public. This is a crisis of their making.

“We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis,” she added. “Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet. It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff. Unite is utterly determined to fight for that.”

The claims by airport operators that recent problems are due to delays in the government issuing airside security passes are nothing more than a smokescreen. Industry experts have highlighted that the aviation sector should have been recruiting staff for this summer by early this year. So the blame for the current chaos lies with the aviation bosses and their failure to see what was coming.

Recent Unite successes include pay increases for workers at Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow airports.

The problems being experienced by the aviation sector have been demonstrated by both easyJet and British Airways recently announcing they are flying with fewer cabin crew and circumventing the problem of staff/passenger ratios by taking rows seats out of their planes.

Major employers across the industry are now trying to alleviate the crisis by insisting that staff work more and more overtime.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson noted, “Unite will not accept our members being forced by their employers to work excessive overtime. Relying on staff overtime to run the business can’t be a long-term solution. Until the sector addresses the fundamental structural problems it has delays, cancellations and chaos will continue.”

By UniteLive team

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