easyJet jobs threat underlines urgent need for government support for UK aviation

Unite the union, which represents over 68,000 aviation workers, has described the announcement today that easyJet is planning to launch a consultation process which could result in 30 percent of its workforce being made redundant as “unnecessarily hasty”. 

Perilous state

The union says that the news is another reminder of the perilous state of the aviation sector and underlines the urgent need for the government to bring forward the package of support promised in March. 

Unnecessarily hasty

Unite officer for easyJet, Lindsey Olliver, said: “The announcement that easyJet is planning to make 30 percent of its workforce redundant is an unnecessarily hasty decision. 

“The workforce is currently furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme and the airline will continue to receive support until at least October. It has also received a government-backed loan of £600m and has committed to expenditure on new aircraft. 

“Unite has not yet been consulted about easyJet’s plans and does not at this stage have details about where in the business the job losses are planned.  

"Unite will be seeking clarification from the company and will maintain that any proposals to reduce jobs could and should be delayed." 

Government intervention needed

Unite National Officer for Civil Aviation, Oliver Richardson, added: “The statement from easyJet follows the announcements of proposed job losses by other airlines and again demonstrates why it is imperative that the government urgently brings forward a bespoke plan to provide assistance to the UK’s aviation sector.

“The UK is an island nation and aviation is strategically crucial for the long-term economic success of the country. Aviation needs urgent financial support to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it cannot simply be left to the market to sort out.

“It is the sector which has been most affected with flights being effectively halted, and without government support the sector will take decades to recover, seriously damaging the local and regional economies which rely on aviation for their financial success.” 

Unite has developed a blueprint of how the government should intervene across the entire aviation sector including airlines and airports to protect jobs and conditions for workers. This would be in the form of loans, which would come with strict strings attached regarding executive pay, corporate governance and requiring strict environmental standards to be adopted to radically improve the industry’s carbon footprint.