Menzies Aviation workers face redundancy after global travel slump

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Menzies Aviation staff at airportImage copyright
John Menzies

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Menzies provides fuelling, ground handling and cargo handling services at 200 airports

More than 300 airport workers in Edinburgh and Glasgow have been put on notice of imminent redundancy.

The Unite trade union said Menzies Aviation has started a 45-day consultation with staff.

Before most aircraft were grounded, the company was one of those providing ground handling for aircraft and baggage.

The firm said it had taken the decision with “great sadness” due to the unprecedented decline in air travel.

The move comes after Menzies Aviation cut more than 17,500 jobs worldwide in March in response to the global slump triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been using the furlough scheme in the UK to keep workers on the payroll but the firm will soon have to start paying towards the costs.

As a result Unite said 160 workers based at Glasgow Airport and about 150 workers at Edinburgh Airport face redundancy following the end of the consultation period.

In both cases the numbers amount to half the workforce at each airport.

‘Frustrated and angry’

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer, who represents staff at Glasgow Airport, said: “We are deeply frustrated and angry that despite the company calling for the job retention scheme to be extended so that job losses could be avoided they have still forged ahead with this announcement.

“Unite fully understands the situation facing the civil aviation industry, which is why we have been calling for a coordinated national response so that we can safeguard thousands of Scottish jobs.

“However, let us be clear, these job losses do not need to happen and this is a deliberate choice by Menzies Aviation to slash its workforce.”

Sandy Smart, the regional industrial officer for Edinburgh Airport, described the development as “bitter news” and accused the company of ignoring calls to keep using the UK government job retention scheme .

‘No choice’

But the company claimed it had “no choice” choice but to reduce its workforce.

Giles Wilson, CEO of Menzies, said: “It is with great sadness we have taken the difficult decision to enter into consultation with our employees and unions to reduce the size of our airport teams in the UK & Ireland.

“This has been the most challenging period the UK aviation sector has ever seen and whilst a small number of flights have started operating again, we do not expect volumes to return to pre-Covid-19 levels in the near future.

“We’re left with no choice therefore but to take action to match our workforce to the volumes we anticipate through the winter and well into 2021 to ensure Menzies is sustainable now and fit for the future.”

Mr Wilson acknowledged the announcement will have a “significant impact” and pledged to do everything to minimise job losses across its network

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