Aviation Workers Must not pay for Volcano Chaos With Their Jobs, Says Unite

Dépèche transmise le 20 avril 2010 par PRNewswire

LONDON, April 20, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- As UK airspace begins to open today (Tuesday) Unite, the biggest union in UK aviation, is warning that workers must not be expected to meet the costs of the disruption brought by the erupting Icelandic volcano.

The issue will be the subject of an emergency debate at the Scottish TUC conference when it meets today in Dundee, prompted by Unite's growing concern that the grounded industry will need large-scale assistance as it attempts to get back to full operations in the days to come. With the COBRA committee developing plans to repatriate UK nationals home and airlines seeking emergency aid to bridge the heavy financial losses incurred by grounded flights, Unite says concerted action to save jobs right across aviation is needed too.

Ahead of the STUC debate Brian Boyd, Unite national officer for civil aviation said: "We fully recognise that the UK civil aviation industry is facing an unprecedented situation and we are sensitive to this, particularly in this tentative economic climate.

"But it is also important to recognise the impact on people employed in this sector. As the skies re-open, standards of health and safety in accordance with the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and Met Office instructions should be fully adhered to. There are no short cuts to a safe working environment. Furthermore, we urge that the employment conditions of the workforce are at the heart of any financial assistance received to airlines.

"This is a time for all parties to work together - government, employers and trade unions - to ensure a return to the skis where the safety and welfare of aviation, passengers and employees is of paramount importance."

The union, which represents 70,000 workers employed in the UK sector, says workers may face increasing pressure to agree to widespread cost-saving changes from an industry desperate to stem huge losses racked up in the recent week. Unite fears that some companies, particularly those in the ground services sector who have been hit hardest by the five days of disruption, will look to employees to cut costs, including asking them to take unpaid leave, and that without government assistance jobs will be lost.

Steve Turner, Unite national officer for civil aviation, warned that Unite will not accept a situation where employees are asked to pay the price with their jobs or wages: "Our members are growing more anxious by the day about what any on-going disruption will mean for jobs as well as conditions of employment. We already know of the worst of employers at major airports who are asking workers to stay at home unpaid while others expect workers to take leave.

"We understand the difficulties this extraordinary situation has placed upon the sector but it is not acceptable to ask workers to pay with their wages or their jobs. We expect the aviation sector to back loyal, professional employees and look seriously at meeting these employment costs during tough times. The unsung heroes of aviation, its lowest paid, working under the wing to provide essential services will not pay the price of another crisis in the sector.

"Unpaid leave - unless voluntary - is not an acceptable option for our members who have families to feed and homes to keep. Should an employer seek to impose such a measure we will offer the full support of this union to defend our members."

The union has also written to the Secretary if State for Transport, Lord Adonis, to ask that he takes all possible steps to alleviate the tremendous pressure on the industry, said to be costing the sector some GBP130 million per day. Unite is clear, however, that any support must deliver employment support for vulnerable workers first and foremost, and that employers must also seek to negotiate sensible solutions to current difficulties, including;

* Suspend the use casual and/or agency labour. * Make wider use of paid leave and the negotiated banking of hours. * Examine whether outstanding holiday entitlement can be brought forward. * Maintain the current rosters for all employees but use the available

Time for training and employee development that has fallen short during the recession.

CONTACT: For further information, please contact Pauline Doyle on+44-(0)7976-832-861. To speak to Brian Boyd ahead of the STUC emergencydebate, please call +44-(0)7880-796-347


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