Unite to challenge legality of Swissport plans for two-week lay-off at Belfast City Airport

Stormont Ministers’ failure to intervene has allowed tailwinds of Flybe collapse to spiral

Unite represents the overwhelming majority of the approximately 150 Swissport employees at Belfast City Airport. Regional Officer for the workers, George Brash, confirmed that shop stewards representing Swissport baggage handlers and check-in staff had been called to a briefing by management on Friday where they were informed of the immediate threat of temporary lay-offs.

“Swissport bosses briefed our shop stewards on Friday, on their proposals for a fourteen day unpaid stand down period – in effect a temporary lay-off .

“This is a totally unacceptable response by Swissport. This is a hugely successful company which last year reported earnings before tax of more than 200 million euro. This is not a company that needs to threaten the income of their employees in the aftermath of the Flybe collapse; indeed, with the prospect that many, if not all, former Flybe routes could be taken on by other airlines this is an unnecessary and unacceptable response rooted in a short-term desire simply to maximise profits.“Unite is already engaging with our legal team to challenge the legality of a 14-day unpaid lay-off.”

Turning to the need for decisive action by Stormont Executive Ministers, Mr Brash said:

Unfortunately this move highlights Unite’s fears that the collapse of Flybe could result in a wider crisis at Belfast City Airport and our economy unless decisive action was taken by the Stormont Executive. Their failure to take over and run this airline in the public interest – securing flights, regional connectivity and jobs at Belfast City Airport – has allowed the tailwinds of Flybe’s collapse to spiral. There are many other airlines in the world which are not run by billionaires – why not here in Northern Ireland?

“Sadly this threat by Swissport bosses is only the first wave, more workers’ jobs will be in danger over coming days should this crisis be allowed to extend. Stormont Ministers must intervene to safeguard these vital flights, the future of the city airport and workers’ livelihoods”, Mr Brash concluded.

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