Airport Crisis – ‘This Chaos Is One Of Their Own Making’

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Airline workers outside Parliament in June 2021 demanding to keep their jobs – thousands were sacked and not replaced

AS the crisis across UK airports deepens, the leading aviation union, Unite, is blaming businesses for taking public money but then slashing jobs during the pandemic.

However the union did not fight to save these jobs, as a leading BA worker told News Line yesterday.

Gurjit Singh, Heathrow Airport BA Ground Staff worker and Unite member, said: ‘This chaos is of their own making.

‘They laid off so many staff, getting rid of them during the pandemic, meaning that now we’ve got more managers than workers.

‘They cut the pay of the workers and the managers, but the worst thing now is that they’ve given back the managers what they lost and left the Unite and GMBmembers with their pay cuts.

‘They just wanted to get rid of what they called “legacy staff”, people on proper pay and conditions and replace them with people on cheap labour contracts.

‘It’s very chaotic at work. The managers don’t know what they are doing, the only ones who are keeping things going are the workers, the people on the lowest pay.

‘We’ve just had a balllot on strike action demanding the restoring of our pay and conditions and the result will be announced later this month, and I am sure there will be an overwhelming YES vote.

‘The union is also to blame. ‘They allowed the company to get away with it, redundancies and fire and rehire, in many ways they actually orchestrated the whole thing.

‘Unite managed to get ict workers at Glasgow Airport a 28.5% pay rise, but at Heathrow we haven’t even had the pay cut restored.

‘We’ve lost between 15 and 17 per cent.

‘There is enormous pressure at work. Passengers are really angry at what’s going on. Loads of BA flights are cancelled every day. They are actually taking people off the aeroplane once they are sitting in their seats.

‘There are shortages of all staff. It is of their own making. There was no need for all the redundancies. People are worried to go into work every day. They take their jackets off when they come off shift. They don’t want to be identified as BA workers.

‘It is Tory chaos and it is not getting any better.’

The union is now calling for a ‘hard wire’ link to jobs to prevent taxpayers’ cash being misused to prop up share prices at the expense of workers’ jobs and pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘The UK’s airports are in crisis because thousands of jobs have been slashed and working conditions attacked.

‘Our money was handed over to firms without any strings attached. Literally hundreds of millions went to the aviation sector during the pandemic and instead of bringing stability those firms have brought us chaos.

‘They did not protect jobs, many just used public money to prop up their share price or pay for “fire and rehire” to hammer pay and conditions. That is why we are where we are.

‘It’s time for public money to have a hard-wire link to jobs. No more handouts without responsibilities. Taxpayers do not pay firms to sack workers and cut their pay and conditions.’