Jobs blow for airport baggage handlers as furlough runs out

PUBLISHED: 11:33 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:37 23 September 2020

Swingeing job cuts are planned among Stansted's Stobart Aviation baggage handling team due to the pandemic  Picture: ANYABERKUT

Swingeing job cuts are planned among Stansted's Stobart Aviation baggage handling team due to the pandemic Picture: ANYABERKUT

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Union bosses are calling for the government to step in and help beleaguered aviation workers as up to 98 baggage handlers at Stansted airport face the axe.

Stansted has seen flights plummet amid the pandemic  Picture: SEAN DEMPSEY/PAStansted has seen flights plummet amid the pandemic Picture: SEAN DEMPSEY/PA

Stobart Aviation Services is looking to shed jobs across its ground crew teams – mainly baggage handlers – at Manchester, Southend and Stansted airports as activity plunges amid the coronavirus crisis.

It is planning to cut the Stansted workforce by a massive 67% – with the 98 out of 153 jobs on the line, the union said.

Southend faces a cut of up to 61% with 94 out of 153 roles at risk, said Unite. Meanwhile 42% of the Stobart workforce at Manchester – 63 out of 149 – could lose their jobs.

Stansted has faced a huge downturn in demand, with Stobart now dealing with just 157 planes a week compared to pre-pandemic levels of 890, Unite said.

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The substantial job cuts planned were “further evidence” that the aviation sector desperately needs government support in order to survive the effects of the pandemic, it added.

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It claimed the latest round of redundancies was “almost certainly” linked to the proposed end of the government’s job retention scheme (JRS), which runs out at the end of October – and argued jobs would be lost “needlessly” as a result.

Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said: “The proposed job losses at Stobart Aviation are yet another example of why the sector needs specific support from the government.

“Time and again we warned that this would happen. Aviation workers and this sector feel abandoned by this government. With the JRS scheduled to end next month, companies feel they are on a cliff edge and with passenger numbers not likely to begin to recover until next year at the earliest many feel pushed into making dramatic job cuts.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak had promised specific support for the aviation sector back in March, but had failed to deliver at the cost of thousands of jobs, he claimed.

“We urge him to delay not a day longer and bring forward the promised support so that more workers are not sent to the dole queue.

“Unite will ensure that our members at Stobart Aviation Services who face a highly stressful and worrying time are treated fairly.”

Unite said it would be holding talks with Stobart Aviation to try to ensure jobs losses were kept to an “absolute minimum “.

Stobart Aviation has been approached for a comment.

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