Unite delegate and aviation worker Sudarshan Dhanda highlighted the urgent need for government support of his sector at Labour conference on Sunday (September 26).
“Our message to you is simple,” he said. “We need your support.”
“Since the pandemic began, when planes were grounded and airports closed, we have lived in fear of losing our jobs,” Sudarshan added. “This is the biggest crisis aviation has ever faced. The full impact cannot yet be known, but already over 25,000 direct jobs have been lost from major airlines alone.
“Because of the government’s handling of international travel restrictions, our jobs, more than in any other industry, still hang in the balance,” he went on to say. “Forecasts by some of a swift recovery are simply too optimistic. Without support in place now, workers may never see their jobs return in the future.”
Sudarshan said he and the tens of thousands of aviation workers Unite represents are calling for the government to ensure a safe reopening of the aviation sector and for the furlough scheme to continue until all travel restrictions are lifted.
“The Tories are determined not to hear our voice, and often bosses are determined to make us pay,” he noted. “What began with ‘fire and rehire’ in British Airways has spread across the industry – from job cuts at airlines to pay cuts at airports.
“A support package for aviation workers is desperately needed,” he told conference. “Our union has a blueprint to deliver it, including support for the environment. We are uniting to fight for it.
“Our recent day of action brought air crew, ground staff, airport workers and air traffic controllers from across the country together with one voice,” Sudarshan continued. “We need that unity to extend to this Conference and to this Party. Stand with us now — for the sake of all of us in the sector.”
By Hajera Blagg