Swissport management blasted for redundancy threat to 287 workers in Belfast City and International airports

Protective notice extends to 175 Swissport employees at Belfast City airport and 112 workers at Belfast International

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer

Stormont Ministers must now intervene to deliver Aviation rescue strategy as shadow is cast over regionally strategic airports

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer for Swissport workers at Belfast City and International Airports expressed his disgust over a management jobs threat issued to 287 employees.

“This evening’s announcement by Swissport confirms our worse fears after the company announced 4,556 job losses across the UK: 175 employees at Belfast City and 112 at Belfast International airports face the immediate prospect of redundancy.

“This will be devastating news for these workers and their families. It is also entirely unnecessary – the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remains in place – these workers could continue to be furloughed. There is no need for any job-losses at this time. This is a disgraceful move solely rooted in the need to secure corporate profits.

“The situation in Belfast City Airport is particularly concerning as the protective notice extends to every single Swissport employee at the airport. Without baggage handlers, gate staff and security desk workers, the airport cannot operate; the scale of this announcement casts a shadow over the future of both Belfast airports, in particular Belfast City.

“The total inactivity of politicians in Stormont in the face of the mounting economic challenge to aviation has been nothing short of criminal. In March, at the start of the Covid downturn Swissport workers joined with colleagues from the collapsed airline Flybe to rally in front of Stormont to seek urgent intervention but absolutely nothing has happened since. In the intervening period, Belfast International has made 45 redundancies and the small operator, Jet2, 34 – while Easyjet has announced 4,500 job-losses across the UK although we haven’t a breakdown of how that affects Northern Ireland. There is a mounting crisis in our aviation sector.

“There is no reason for these jobs to go but the Northern Ireland Executive has offered nothing positive by way of a rescue strategy for aviation. In particular, there doesn’t appear to be anyone making the case in any serious or effective way in Westminster for Northern Ireland aviation jobs and the vital importance of both Belfast airports – key to securing the future economic prosperity of our region.

“It is now absolutely imperative that we see urgent action in both Stormont and Westminster to safeguard our aviation sector, its workforce and the future of regional airports”, Mr Brash concluded.

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