2 November 2021

PCS south west statement on Bristol Airport expansion

PCS south west regional committee has resolved to oppose the expansion of Bristol Airport.

PCS south west regional committee has resolved to oppose the expansion of Bristol Airport on environmental grounds, scepticism over any real benefits for our members, and the need to focus on securing long-term job security through retraining and redeployment in green jobs.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the need to move away from the reliance on aviation industry for jobs. The quiet skies of the pandemic and consequent fall in carbon emissions and other pollution from aviation have posed questions about how reductions in air travel can be maintained beyond the pandemic.

PCS has always argued that protecting the long-term job security of our members in aviation means recognising the impact of flying on the environment. Technical fixes – new fuels, better engines, more efficient aircraft – will help but not solve the challenge of climate change.

We are among a growing movement calling for a ‘Just Transition’ to protect those whose jobs, incomes and livelihoods are at risk because of climate policies.

Trade unions have been jointly lobbying the government for both job protection and for retraining and redeployment into other, decarbonising, jobs in the knowledge that meeting the U.K. climate targets will restrict the amount of aviation expansion permissible. Dependence on airports for future employment growth cannot be relied upon.

While many current jobs in aviation will continue to be needed, and we fight to protect those, many will either transform (retraining) or will disappear (redeployment), so those alternative employment plans are absolutely essential to protect the continued livelihoods of workers. It is now generally accepted that combatting climate change is the richest source of future employment, and the government urgently needs to come forward with plans to implement these.

Contrary to the assumption from some quarters that an expansion means a jobs bonanza, PCS – which has a national policy to challenge airport expansion on environmental grounds – remains sceptical about the real benefit for our members.

We welcomed North Somerset County Council’s overwhelming rejection of the expansion plan in February 2020, and also the recent motion passed by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to oppose the latest plans to expand the airport.

PCS will continue to work with trade unions and allies that support a whole economy approach to tackling climate change and a Just Transition that recognises the rights of the entire labour movement.

We are urging our members to join us at the coalition of trade union and workers bloc on the Global Day for Climate Justice in Bristol on 6 November. This gives us the opportunity to put our message promoting a worker-led ‘Just Transition’ front and centre as world leaders meet in Glasgow for COP26.