Time running out to save Northern Ireland airports at heart of our regional economy, warns Unite

Layout 1More than two months on from the promised but yet to emerge government support for the UK’s beleaguered aviation industry, the UK’s leading aviation union is warning that without urgent action regional economies will take a big hit destroying the Prime Minster’s pledge to ‘level up’ the economy.

Research commissioned by Unite the union highlights the vast economic contributions airports make to regional economies and details the devastating effect that closure of an airport or severe reductions in activity would have on the local area.  An estimated 1.2 million UK workers rely on aviation for their employment, many of them in the airports, airlines, retail, services and transport jobs associated with air travel.

The report is published 24 hours after the sector suffered yet another blow as airline easyJet announced plans to cut its workforce by 30 per cent.  easyJet is a hugely important player in terms of regional airports with a base at Belfast International Airport.

Unite’s research details how Northern Ireland is particularly reliant on air travel to ensure connectivity to the UK mainland but its two major airports Belfast International and Belfast City are also major employers, supporting 4,000 workers who are directly employed at the airports. City of Derry airport also provides vital connectivity to the Northwest and plays a vital role in the local economy.

The new research Economic and social importance of the UK’s regional airports further develops the key messages found in Unite’s own blueprint UKaviation flying into the future which provides details of the actions needing to be taken by the government to protect airlines and airports and to preserve jobs and conditions in the sector, which has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unite is warning that without a specific bespoke package for the aviation industry tens of thousands of jobs could soon be lost. All airports are impacted and smaller regional airports may even be forced to close permanently


Unite regional secretary for Ireland Jackie Pollock said:  “Airports are hubs for massive economic activity for our towns and cities, supporting jobs from cabin crew and ground handling to engineers and cleaners. 

“But across the UK they are facing huge challenges at the moment and need urgent assistance to secure a future where they can continue to provide these vitally important routes and support millions of direct and indirect jobs.

“The prime minister himself made clear yesterday that he is committed to levelling up the economy, to spread the economic benefits more fairly.  That really must mean helping our airports through these tough times as, possibly more than any other industry, they provide jobs and incomes in every corner of the country. Continue reading

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Northern Ireland Executive must bring forward ambitious industrial programme to secure vital manufacturing skillsbase


Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary

Northern Ireland’s industrial sector highly exposed to global shocks from Covid-19 pandemic

Investment needed now to secure ‘at risk’ skills base if Northern Ireland is to seize opportunities for future growth

Jackie Pollock, Regional Secretary for Unite, called on the Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward ambitious plans to reallocate manufacturing skills in the face of increasingly challenging economic climate.

“Northern Ireland has a large and vibrant manufacturing sector. Ten percent of all jobs in the economy are in manufacturing – and the sector supports the jobs of one in four – one of the highest percentages in any developed economy but that success has been achieved despite the absence of an effective industrial policy.

“Unite is aware of mounting threats posed to jobs in the manufacturing sector as a result of the global downturn – in particular that in the more advanced manufacturing sectors where we have a longstanding strength. Our productive economy – because of its strengths in advanced manufacturing – is particularly exposed to headwinds from a global downturn and dislocation to supply chains.   Continue reading

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Wrightbus job loss plan is a heavy blow to workers, their families and the wider Ballymena economy

086Consultative process confirmed on plans to make redundant 35 employees and up to 90 agency staff 

Unite calls on new Wrightbus owners to furlough workers under Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme

George Brash, Unite Regional Officer called on Wrightbus management to mitigate its plans for a phased redundancy among its Ballymena workforce.

“Unite has been engaging regularly with the new owners of Wrightbus with a view to securing the maximal investment and employment at the factory’s Ballymena site. Today’s announcement by management is therefore profoundly regrettable.

“Management plans to make redundant 35 employees and to bring forward a phased-process of reducing agency staffing affecting up to 90 workers. Every job lost is a heavy blow for the individual concerned, their household, the wider community and economy – especially in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“Ahead of this announcement being made, I spoke to senior management to call on them to utilise the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme to protect jobs and retain skilled workers; the prospect of workers being thrown onto the dole queues at this time is unacceptable. Continue reading

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Minister for Health fails to respond in more than a fortnight to Registered Childminders’ written request for a meeting on concerns 

Susan Fitzgerald RCOChildminders left turning away working parents because of lack of clear guidelines on status of essential and key workers eligible for childcare

Minister has met with NI Childminding Association to discuss that organisation’s priorities, vital he now hears voice of Registered Childminders themselves

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer challenged the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann on his failure, and that of his Department, to address a range of concerns raised by Registered Childminders in the course of the last fortnight.

“Registered Childminders and childcare workers are providing a vital service at this time of crisis. Without the childcare they offer working parents and those with parental responsibilities, many on the frontlines of our NHS and other essential workplaces would not be able to go work.

“More than two week’s ago on May 5th, Unite wrote to the Minister on behalf of our Registered Childminder members to raise a range of pressing concerns and seek an urgent meeting. We received a standard communication confirming receipt the same day which stated that because of the volume of correspondence the Minister was receiving he was forwarding our letter to a lead policy officer for a response.

“In the intervening fifteen days, the Registered Childminders we represent have received absolutely nothing further on their concerns from the Department. This is clearly an insult to workers who are stepping forward to provide a vital and essential service at this time. It is simply not good enough”.  Continue reading

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Hospitality and Hairdressing: Employers must engage with workers before re-opening

Unite logo white out of red“If workers are not safe, customers are not safe”

May 20th: Trade union Unite, which represents workers in the hospitality and hairdressing sectors, has urged employers to engage with workers during the next number of weeks to ensure that workplaces offer a safe environment for workers and customers alike.  Speaking today (Wednesday), Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne said that hospitality and hairdressing workers deserved praise for the way they had handled the closure of their workplaces – which in many cases entailed the loss of employment – as part of the response to a public health emergency affecting us all:

Continue reading

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