Belfast International Airport jobs threat runs directly counter to the intent of the government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme

086Union that represents workers warns airport bosses that meaningful consultation cannot take place at this time and constitutes an abuse of furlough scheme 

Unite says application to the Tribunal for a protective award and individual unfair dismissal claims are likely

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer for workers at Belfast International Airport called on management to immediately rescind plans for a consultation on  making redundant 45 employees.

“Unite has written to the airport management to challenge their redundancy plans. The plans were made public today on the same day that Unite launched our campaign for an aviation strategy – urging the UK government to intervene to safeguard jobs and skills in the aviation and aerospace manufacturing sectors.

“Meaningful consultation on the proposed job losses cannot take place at this time. Any dismissals made whilst the furlough scheme is ongoing would be unfair and will likely lead to an application to the Tribunal for a protective award on behalf of our bargaining unit and individual unfair dismissal claims for any members dismissed. Continue reading

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Unite Senior Officer critical of funding proposal from EU

Unite logo white out of redMay 29th: Writing today on the publication of a new ICTU policy Document No Going Back: A New Deal towards a safe and secure future for all, Unite the Union RoI Senior Officer Brendan Ogle was critical of the EU Commission’s recovery fund for Ireland.

Ogle said, “In the very weeks when Fine Gael and Fianna Fail first seemed to rule out tax increases going forward (including the ongoing refusal to accept the Apple Tax), and then state-led borrowing, an attack began on the COVID-19 payment, with people who have been forced into isolation being targeted for ‘being better off’ on €350 a week. Now we learn that, of €750bn targeted by the European Commission in a recovery fund of grants and loans for 27 member states, Ireland is earmarked for just €1.9 billion, a tiny 0.25% of the total. This for a country that Eurostat found had been forced to pay 42% of the total cost of the European banking debt following the financial crash.”

He added, “The call for a universal public healthcare system free at the point of use must now be our most basic demand following a public health emergency where we found out who the real heroes in our labour market were. They were the ones out there saving lives and putting their own at risk!”

Furthermore, “Our individual wellbeing is linked into our collective wellbeing. The public needs to be safe, but who better to give a customer that assurance in a restaurant, bar or shop than the staff who work there? Remember this, when our economy re-opens if a worker serving you is sick from COVID you may well get sick too. Do you really want those workers not to be safe and protected?”

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Half a century after pay equality act passed, average pay for women in Northern Ireland remains 10 percent lower than for men


Occupations in which women still predominate such as Carers and Cleaners paid less and treated as lower skilled

Taryn Trainor, Unite Regional Women’s & Equalities Officer reflected on the fact that today marks a half century since pay equality legislation came into force but that despite this average pay for women remains lower than for their male counterparts.

“The Pay Equality Act which was passed in 1970 was triggered by the Ford Sewing Machinists strike of working women in 1968 for equal pay. While it represented a historic milestone in the fight for female equality, despite the passage of half a century, it has not eliminated the gender pay gap.  

“While the act sought to ensure equal pay for the same work, it did not address the wider structural disadvantage facing female workers in the labour market. Women had been traditionally paid less than male counterparts and this legacy of structural disadvantage remains in place today. Indeed the sectors in which females have historically predominated remain lower paid by comparison to more traditionally ‘male’ sectors. Continue reading

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Time running out to save Northern Ireland airports at heart of our regional economy, warns Unite

Layout 1More than two months on from the promised but yet to emerge government support for the UK’s beleaguered aviation industry, the UK’s leading aviation union is warning that without urgent action regional economies will take a big hit destroying the Prime Minster’s pledge to ‘level up’ the economy.

Research commissioned by Unite the union highlights the vast economic contributions airports make to regional economies and details the devastating effect that closure of an airport or severe reductions in activity would have on the local area.  An estimated 1.2 million UK workers rely on aviation for their employment, many of them in the airports, airlines, retail, services and transport jobs associated with air travel.

The report is published 24 hours after the sector suffered yet another blow as airline easyJet announced plans to cut its workforce by 30 per cent.  easyJet is a hugely important player in terms of regional airports with a base at Belfast International Airport.

Unite’s research details how Northern Ireland is particularly reliant on air travel to ensure connectivity to the UK mainland but its two major airports Belfast International and Belfast City are also major employers, supporting 4,000 workers who are directly employed at the airports. City of Derry airport also provides vital connectivity to the Northwest and plays a vital role in the local economy.

The new research Economic and social importance of the UK’s regional airports further develops the key messages found in Unite’s own blueprint UKaviation flying into the future which provides details of the actions needing to be taken by the government to protect airlines and airports and to preserve jobs and conditions in the sector, which has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unite is warning that without a specific bespoke package for the aviation industry tens of thousands of jobs could soon be lost. All airports are impacted and smaller regional airports may even be forced to close permanently


Unite regional secretary for Ireland Jackie Pollock said:  “Airports are hubs for massive economic activity for our towns and cities, supporting jobs from cabin crew and ground handling to engineers and cleaners. 

“But across the UK they are facing huge challenges at the moment and need urgent assistance to secure a future where they can continue to provide these vitally important routes and support millions of direct and indirect jobs.

“The prime minister himself made clear yesterday that he is committed to levelling up the economy, to spread the economic benefits more fairly.  That really must mean helping our airports through these tough times as, possibly more than any other industry, they provide jobs and incomes in every corner of the country. Continue reading

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Northern Ireland Executive must bring forward ambitious industrial programme to secure vital manufacturing skillsbase


Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary

Northern Ireland’s industrial sector highly exposed to global shocks from Covid-19 pandemic

Investment needed now to secure ‘at risk’ skills base if Northern Ireland is to seize opportunities for future growth

Jackie Pollock, Regional Secretary for Unite, called on the Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward ambitious plans to reallocate manufacturing skills in the face of increasingly challenging economic climate.

“Northern Ireland has a large and vibrant manufacturing sector. Ten percent of all jobs in the economy are in manufacturing – and the sector supports the jobs of one in four – one of the highest percentages in any developed economy but that success has been achieved despite the absence of an effective industrial policy.

“Unite is aware of mounting threats posed to jobs in the manufacturing sector as a result of the global downturn – in particular that in the more advanced manufacturing sectors where we have a longstanding strength. Our productive economy – because of its strengths in advanced manufacturing – is particularly exposed to headwinds from a global downturn and dislocation to supply chains.   Continue reading

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