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.

“The support package offered by the UK Chancellor in March seeks to ensure workforce ‘retention’ rather than ‘termination’ so plans by management to consult on job losses runs directly against the stated objective of the scheme.

Mr Brash continued by highlighting the union’s analysis that the move to make redundant workers who are currently furloughed was an abuse of the CJRS scheme and would be challenged.

“Belfast International Airport management is effectively seeking to be subsidised by the taxpayer to pay workers during the specified minimum periods of consultation. Paragraph 2.5 of the Schedule makes it clear that: ‘No CJRS claim may be made in respect of an employee if it is abusive or is otherwise contrary to the exceptional purpose of CJRS’.

“This is clearly an abuse of the scheme; indeed many of our shop stewards are currently furloughed which actively limits their ability to engage in this consultation. In addition they are unable to engage freely and fully with other furloughed members facing redundancy under the terms of the Scheme.

“If would be unfair to dismiss employees while the job retention scheme is ongoing. The company is seeking to consult prematurely, when meaningful consultation is impossible and proper consultation on ways of avoiding dismissals, reducing the numbers of those to be dismissed and mitigating the consequences of the dismissals, cannot be conducted.

“We have written to demand airport bosses immediately rescind their consultation on job-loss and immediately suspend the current process hastily undertaken”, Mr Brash concluded.

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