A new report on the airline industry of the United Kingdom has warned that a jobs crisis in British aviation industry that is comparable to the scale of the coal mining industry’s collapse during the 1980s was on the cards because of the grounding of air travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
This report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) of the UK said that at least 70,000 jobs in the wider aviation industry were at risk of being slashed before the end of summer and put British ministers on notice for a possible surge in redundancies because airlines are expected to face a continued reduced air travelling by people even after the receding of the outbreak. The report noted tat the jobs at risk of being slashed included ones from engineering, catering and duty free shopping fields.
This figure of job cuts was comparable to the number of job losses that had happened during the coal industry slump in 1980-81 during he early years of Margaret Thatcher’s newly elected Tory government, said the report that was compiled in collaboration with the TUC, aviation unions and the climate action charity Possible.
This new report about huge job cuts in the aviation industry comes at a time when airlines and other companies in the aviation industry have already furloughed thousands of workers in the UK. It is expected that there will be a wave of redundancies in the coming weeks after the transition away from the furlough scheme which is covering about 80 per cent of the wage bill of almost 9 million workers in the UK. The government will be gradually closing down the scheme starting August and completely stopped at the end of October.
Depending on the number of staff affected, redundancy consultations require between 30 and 45 days which means that those companies that plan to cut jobs will have to begin the process soon.
Companies now opting for the furlough schemed will have to decide on whether to continue to keep their employees on furlough when they will have to start contributing parts of the cost of furloughing or engage in redundancies.
The UK government has been generous with its support for the airlines. More than 25,000 staff on furlough was placed by British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet combined. These airlines were also given soft loans worth £1.5bn that were also government-backed from the Bank of England. Despite this, the airlines reportedly still plan to cut thousands of job this year because of the new quarantine restrictions, an expected reduction in passenger demand because of the associated health risks from Covid-19 and a lower number of planned journeys in the future.
The leftwing thinktank said out of the 70,000 jobs that are at risk of being axed over the next three months, 39,000 were directly related to aviation jobs. The rest of the expected redundancies will be in the wider supply chain of the aviation sector such as in engineering, food catering, and duty free shopping areas.
“We cannot consign these workers to the despair of unemployment,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC. “Aviation needs immediate support – and not just to protect the incomes of billionaire airline owners. Government must act now to protect workers’ jobs and livelihoods, to support the longer-term viability of the sector and to facilitate a just transition to lower-carbon operations.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)