Birmingham airport protesters demand chancellor keeps aviation promise and stops regional ‘devastation’
- Saturday 8 August 2020
Aviation industry workers, with support from Birmingham Airport, will stage a protest outside Birmingham Airport on Saturday (8 August) to demand chancellor Rishi Sunak prevents ‘devastation’ within the region’s aviation industry by fulfilling his promise to provide support for the sector.
When: Saturday 8 August 2020 at 10:00 hrs
Where: Outside Birmingham Airport departure zone (Door C)
Unite members will hold the socially distanced protest outside the popular airport, which handled 12.7 million passengers in 2019 and connects to 150 destinations direct, to demand ‘immediate government support' for the sector. Not do so risks ‘hurting jobs, communities and businesses alike’, the union said.
In an unprecedented move, and underscoring the seriousness of the crisis, Birmingham Airport’s management will also be attending the protest calling for tailored government support for the aviation sector.
Around 60,000 jobs – equivalent to the population of Tunbridge Wells – from the industry have already been lost, including proposed cuts at Birmingham Airport and across the wider region. In contrast to the crisis the industry is currently facing, August 9 marked the busiest day of 2019 for global air travel.
Unite said West Midland’s aviation workers are ‘pleading’ with the chancellor to fulfil a promise he made in March to support the sector and allow it to weather to the temporary impacts of the pandemic without mass job losses. To further highlight their plight, Unite is urging members of the public to send Rishi Sunak a digital ‘wish you were here… to save UK aviation jobs’ postcard.
The government’s inaction is in stark contrast to the decisive and job saving measures taken by other countries, such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, in relation to their aviation sectors.
Birmingham airport generates £1.1 billion per annum for the region’s economy and helps support more than 25,000 jobs, with around 8,000 people either employed at the airport or nearby in airport related activities. The West Midlands is also home to leading aviation manufacturing and supply companies, employing some 5,100 people in the region.
Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “Aviation workers in the West Midlands are pleading with the chancellor to keep the promise he made in March and provide support for the sector. They have now been waiting for months and hundreds of jobs across the region have been lost as a result. The severity of the situation is such that Birmingham Airport’s management are fully supporting Unite on the protest.
“The aviation industry is a major part of the West Midlands economy but faces devastation without immediate government support, hurting workers, communities and businesses alike. The delay is inexcusable, especially given the prompt actions of other countries to support their aviation industries.
“Unite is also calling for employers not to hollow out their operations in response to a temporary downturn. Unite has been successful in working with companies such as Ryanair to prevent redundancies through temporary tiered pay reductions and job pooling and we urge other companies to do the same.”
Together with the TUC and all aviation unions, Unite is calling for the government to take on the economic and fiscal measures needed to support the sector, including:
• The extension of, and modifications to, the coronavirus job retention scheme to protect employment in the aviation sector
• Suspension of air passenger duty
• Public service obligation routes to ensure regional connectivity
• Business rate relief for airports (as in Scotland and Northern Ireland)
• Extending the period of repayment of loans to aviation companies beyond the current two year maximum
The full list of measures can be found on Unite’s urgent summer update to its ‘Flying into the Future’ blueprint, which was produced in March in response to the coronavirus crisis. The blueprint in its entirety can be found here.
Notes to editors:
UK-wide protests urge chancellor to keep aviation promise and prevent industry being ‘devastated’
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.