Protesting aviation workers vow to continue their campaign to ‘Keep Northern Ireland connected’

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer

Stormont must protect jobs and skills, and regional connectivity, by securing a bespoke package for Northern Ireland

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer for his union’s membership in the aviation and airport sectors demanded Stormont Ministers act on the threat to jobs and regional connectivity.

“The Northern Ireland Executive has completely failed to act an unprecedented crisis in Northern Ireland’s airports. Hundreds of pilots, cabin crew, baggage handlers, security staff, air traffic controllers and those employed in the shops in the concourses of our airports have either lost their jobs or face a threat to their livelihoods when they come off furlough.

“The MLAs and Ministers are on their summer suspension but workers don’t have that option. We need urgent intervention to safeguard jobs, vital routes and the future of our airports.

“Today’s socially-distanced protest was part of a UK-wide day of action for the sector. As part of our blueprint for recovery, Unite is demanding action by Stormont and Westminster governments to keep Northern Ireland Connected. This must include the rollout of the bespoke package for aviation here that was promised by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and crucial to aid recovery and safeguard thousands of jobs.

“Specific actions we seek include the provision of repayable government loans linked to job protection; the extension of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme beyond October to protect jobs and skills, tied to the maintenance of T&Cs; and the suspension of Air Passenger duty. We are also calling for direct intervention to secure Northern Ireland ‘slots’ at Heathrow to ensure this region’s continued global connectivity and that key routes are accorded Public Service Obligation status.

“These policy objectives are entirely reasonable and can be delivered quickly. We will plan to escalate our campaign in coming weeks to secure the action needed”, Mr Brash concluded.

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