Aviation workers must be protected and given right to retrain amid corona chaos

10 Jun 2020

PCS has welcomed an aviation sector report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) calling for the right of staff to retrain and investment in green de-carbonisation technologies.

According to the report, industry leaders should be negotiating redundancy limits with trade unions, bailouts should be coupled with forcing suspension of shareholder dividends, excessive executive pay should be curbed and tax avoidance should be minimised. 

The report also demanded firms invest more in green technology and decarbonisation.

PCS, which represents air traffic control assistants and staff at London airports, said the report should be a wake-up call to the industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 70,000 jobs could be lost in the coming months and PCS is insisting the government steps in to minimise job losses, and financially support staff to retrain if their job is under threat.

We have also called for a Just Transition in aviation and the need for protecting the environment to secure the future of the sector.

Reacting to the report, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Aviation workers should not be paying for the industry-wide crisis caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

“There are many things the government can do to stem the tide of job losses, not least ensuring workers are given the right to retraining, huge state support and curbing executive pay and big business tax avoidance in airline companies.

“Only by putting the aviation industry on a green footing and taking the sector into public ownership can we guarantee jobs and adequate environmental protections.”

PCS has long argued for a just and transformative transition to a zero carbon economy. It has equally argued for the need for an integrated public transport system including aviation.

The union is committed to fight to protect the jobs, pay, terms and conditions of its members, and seek government assistance to ensure this. We believe any bail-outs in the aviation industry, should be for workers to underpin a return of the aviation sector into public ownership. This should form part of a national transport strategy to plan for the future configuration of aviation.

The first phase of this will be the formation of an aviation sector group that brings together government ministers, the aviation unions, and private sector to address immediate concerns in the sector. The second phase needs to go beyond this to wider strategic questions facing the industry in the short, medium and longer term. A key part of which is aligning the industry to decarbonisation targets to tackle climate change and developing an integrated transport sector.

For these reasons PCS is calling, at this moment of opportunity, for full public ownership of the transport sector, including aviation, and the deployment of the workforce towards the provision of public transport services and the successful achievement of climate targets. Now is not the time to be clinging on to the redundant expansion plans of aviation employers.

The union is releasing short and longer reports on these demands in the coming weeks.

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