easyJet staff 'losing faith' in airline
easyJet staff to stage airport demonstrations after voting no confidence in COO
easyJet staff will hold socially distanced demonstrations this week at Newcastle, Southend and Stansted airports over the firm’s plans to close its operations at those locations and shed 1,290 cabin crew jobs nationwide.
The protests – which will take place at 10.30am in Newcastle on Wednesday (July 22), Southend on Thursday (July 23) and Stansted on Friday (July 24) – come after staff voted in favour of a no confidence ballot in easyJet chief operating officer (COO) Peter Bellew.
The ballot of more than 3,000 Unite cabin crew members at the airline was 99.32 per cent in favour of the no confidence motion. The pilot’s union BALPA conducted a similar ballot which also returned a near unanimous vote of no confidence in Mr Bellew.
Unite members are angry that while their jobs and incomes at the airline are under attack, easyJet paid £174m in dividends to shareholders at the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
The company has also secured a government funded load of £600 million yet is pressing on with a large-scale cuts and closure programme.
In addition to the proposed job losses and base closures, Unite members are angry at how Mr Bellew, who has recently arrived at easyJet from Ryanair has misjudged the start of the Covid-19 crisis by criticising the “hype going on around the virus” and encouraging “business as usual”.
They has also criticised how he has attempted a ‘smash and grab’ of cabin crew pay, terms and conditions and has tried to bypass easyJet’s recognised trade unions Unite and pilots’ union BALPA, by proposing “Coronavirus Co-operation agreements” directly to staff, who categorically rejected them.
Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver said, “Since Mr Bellew’s arrival at easyJet our members have become increasingly concerned by his actions. They genuinely fear for the longevity and reputation of easyJet with Mr Bellew in his current position. The airline’s crew wear their uniforms with pride, but they are losing faith in the company and feel undervalued and disrespected.
“During the pandemic easyJet has made liberal use of taxpayer funded support through the job retention scheme and a £600m loan as well as paying £174m in shareholder dividends,” she added. “These redundancies will cause misery, add to the economic upheaval the country is experiencing and hurt regional connectivity.
“easyJet must halt these closures and redundancies but the government also has its part to play. It is absolutely essential that the job retention scheme is extended for the aviation sector, which has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic.
“The government’s ongoing failure to provide such sector specific support is resulting in huge job losses throughout the industry and is threatening the viability of airlines and airports alike. It is directly responsible for encouraging airlines to make drastic cuts as a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Olliver went on to say.
“The aviation industry is essential to the future prosperity of the UK’s economy and it is vital that the government steps up to the plate and provides specific support in line with other nations.”
By Ryan Fletcher