Aviation Sector: Worker Protection

Transport – in the House of Commons on 2nd July 2020.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Labour, Worsley and Eccles South

What steps he is taking to help ensure that the terms and conditions of workers in the aviation sector are protected during the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Opposition Whip (Commons)

What steps he is taking to help ensure that the terms and conditions of workers in the aviation sector are protected during the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government remain committed to an open dialogue with the sector as we work towards our shared ambition of getting aviation up and running again. We encourage the industry and unions to engage constructively with each other.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Labour, Worsley and Eccles South

British Airways is proposing to lay off 12,000 staff and is using this pandemic as cover to put its remaining 30,000 staff on inferior contracts. Using a global health crisis to force through such changes is a national disgrace, yet British Airways still enjoys preferential treatment as our flag carrier, with a dominant position on slots at Heathrow. If it fails to treat its staff properly, surely it is time to review whether it is fit to be our national carrier and time to reallocate those slots.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

All redundancies or any threat to jobs in this unprecedented pandemic is incredibly worrying for all workers, and my sympathies are with all those affected at this time. I have spoken to Willie Walsh and encouraged BA and the unions to engage constructively with each other. Employees should be treated fairly and in the spirit of partnership and we are working with the aviation sector on a restart and recovery plan. Of course, we will be looking at all regulations at our disposal.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Opposition Whip (Commons)

A constituent of mine who started working for British Airways more than 20 years ago faces losing their job or being rehired on worse pay and terms than when they started work. BA needs to halt its plans and the Government have still not brought forward an aviation sector deal, as promised three months ago. Will the Minister therefore confirm when an aviation deal will finally be announced and whether any deal will both extend the job retention scheme for aviation workers and include firm conditions to help to protect jobs, firms and pay?

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of measures to support business and particularly the aviation sector. The Chancellor and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have been clear that we stand ready to talk to and hear from businesses that need further support. Of course, my absolute sympathies are with everybody affected with regards to redundancies or any kind of change within their terms and conditions. It is absolutely right that those employees should be treated fairly, and I hope that the unions and BA continue to work together to come to a proper resolution.