THE UNITE trade union has hit out at the Johnson government for once again failing to recognise the impact of Covid restrictions on the UK’s aviation sector, a key source of local jobs and central to the country’s economy.
The union said that the government is again failing to support the sector at this critical time of further Covid restrictions.
It called for a meeting with chancellor Rishi Sunak to act to help aviation and aerospace through the uncertainty generated by the Omicron variant, so that it can rebuild sustainably and with resilience, in line with Unite’s blueprint for aviation
Unite said such a meeting, in the wake of the chancellor’s package for the battered hospitality sector unveiled on Tuesday, 21 December, must also involve transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Unite, which represents tens of thousands of workers in the sector, said aviation had been ‘abandoned’ when it came to government understanding of the realities of the aviation sector and the lack of support since the pandemic severely disrupted global travel in March 2020 – resulting in thousands of jobs being lost, pay and conditions cut, as well as employees being furloughed, planes being mothballed and airports becoming ‘ghost towns’.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Throughout the pandemic ministers have repeatedly failed to provide the support needed for an industry and workforce that are central to our economy.
‘Jobs have been lost, pay and conditions cut and the future of world class UK aviation put at risk because the government has failed to provide the sector-specific support needed.
‘Time and again, aviation workers have been abandoned by this government and left to pay the price. It is simply not good enough.’
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: ‘Since this crisis hit, Unite has been urging the government to act for the sustainable future of aviation, but chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps have failed to take the specific action needed for this strategically important sector.
‘However, as we know from competitor economies, interventions by governments save jobs and secure a more resilient future for the sector.
‘The government has to provide support to give employees hope that they are securing a sustainable and more resilient future for this industry. It is wrong to leave thousands of workers with this level of insecurity and uncertainty.
‘On Tuesday, pubs, restaurants and cafés received a welcome support package to tide them over and something similar urgently needs to be on the table for aviation.’
Unite has been calling for a support package for aviation to be delivered since the chancellor promised it in March 2020.
Earlier this year, the union revealed that the lack of government support has swept away over 5,000 jobs in the sector per month.