Airport workers rally at the steps of Stormont hears call for urgent action to avert the full-blown crisis facing Belfast City Airport
Unite represents 150 Swissport baggage handlers and check-in staff at Belfast City Airport. Regional Officer for the workers, George Brash, confirmed that he had received notice from the employer of the commencement of a thirty-day consultation on plans for up to ninety-five job losses; the move came only days after employees at the airport were put on a fourteen day lay-off by the company.
“Swissport has informed Unite that they are initiating a 30-day consultation on job-losses at Belfast City Airport. As many as ninety-five workers – more than half their workforce at the airport – face compulsory redundancy by April 11th. This is devastating news for the workers and comes only days after Swissport bosses placed staff at city airport on a 14 day unpaid lay-off.
“Swissport is a hugely successful company which last year reported earnings before tax of more than 250 million euro. Their decision to make workers redundant is rooted in a simple desire to maximise profits. With the prospect that airlines have expressed an interests in taking on many, if not all, the former Flybe routes this is a totally unacceptable approach.
“The news came only hours after Flybe workers were joined by other staff, including Swissport workers, for a rally at the steps of Stormont. Airport workers chanted demands that local Ministers intervene to save jobs, vital connectivity and the future of Belfast City Airport. We hope that the politicians were listening as they have only a narrow window of opportunity to avert what is a full-blown crisis at Belfast City Airport and the Northern Ireland economy.
“If the politicians continue to be inactive, airlines will be allowed to cherry-pick the profitable routes without establishing a base in the airport. Unfortunately the politicians do not appear to grasp the importance of securing an airline to base itself at the airport for its long-term future and that of the workforce.
“If an airline cannot be found to do that, we need a political intervention – both from Stormont and Westminster. Six hundred billion in capital investment was announced by the Chancellor to the Exchequer today – it is vital that at least some of that is allocated to defend vital regional connectivity and jobs. Northern Ireland cannot be left behind”, Mr Brash concluded.