Transport unions react to Gatwick closures

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Following the announcement by Gatwick airport that it will reduce its summer capacity, transport workers unions have called on the aviation industry to take urgent measures to address worker shortages.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called on corporations across the aviation industry to take urgent measures to work more collaboratively with governments and unions to raise standards in aviation. The call for collaboration was made in order to restore the industry as an employer of choice and rectify capacity shortages, flight delays, long queues and beleaguered service levels that have plagued the industry for months.

Stephen Cotton, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) General Secretary, commented: “Just as holidaymakers and passengers finally felt safe to travel, decisions made by airlines and airports during the height of the Covid crisis have come home to roost. The queues, delays, and last-minute cancellations we’re seeing today are a result of a loss of more than two million skilled workers across airlines, airports, and aviation services.

“This move by Gatwick wouldn’t have been needed if calls from aviation unions for staff retention programmes, and years of warnings that the floor for employment standards was dropping too low, hadn’t fallen on deaf ears.

“Employers must work collaboratively with unions and governments across the entire sector – from airlines to airports – to fix the underlying issues that have crippled the industry. To solve this crisis, transport unions are calling for a coordinated industry-wide response to improve workers’ job security, employment standards and ongoing development programmes. Maintaining workers’ rights is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of the industry.

“Employers and governments pointing the finger at each other will not fix this crisis, the supply chain that is so fractured that only an industry-wide response will fix this. Governments need to step in and sit down with employers and unions across the industry to find sustainable solution to the crisis.”

Union reporting revealed that workers who remain in the industry are struggling to cope with an overwhelming workload and are continuing to face elevated levels of passenger anger despite their best efforts.