Heathrow catering company snubs furlough extension and plans to sack more than 1,000 workers

A Heathrow Airport catering company, whose biggest customer is British Airways, has snubbed the government’s extension of furlough until December as it makes more than 1,000 workers redundant.

Unite said that Austrian-owned DO & CO was the only Heathrow catering company not to engage constructively with the union over furlough.

The company has said that it will be making 1,068 staff redundant, bringing a total of 1,377 job losses, including voluntary redundancies, since the pandemic started. Just 507 staff will be left after the latest job cull. 

Unite said that the company is snubbing the financial support on offer to retain workers in employment with the government announcing that the furlough arrangements should continue, as the country faces a four-week second wave COVID-19 lockdown from tomorrow.

Unite called for the company to enter into constructive talks to chart a way forward, utilise the current furlough arrangements and not throw more than 1,000 low-paid workers onto the dole queue in the run-up to Christmas.

Unite regional officer, Shereen Higginson, said: “DO & CO is the only catering company at Heathrow that has refused point-blank to enter into constructive talks with the union over furlough arrangements. It is also delaying discussions on the new Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).

“It is refusing to discuss the furlough extension arrangements into December as outlined by the government.

“We are ‘naming and shaming’ DO &CO as an example of corporate callousness in the middle of a global pandemic – and pointing out the indirect reputational damage to British Airways being associated with this catering company.

“When passengers board their planes, many of them flown by British Airways, they expect meals and drinks, which are provided by an invisible army of aviation caterers who are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country.

“Throwing more than 1,000 catering workers onto the dole queue as we enter a second lockdown, when new jobs will be almost non-existent, shows a lack of humanity and common decency.”