The trade union has launched a campaign to support workers at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.
Unite Scotland has set up the campaign as it argued that Scottish airport workers are disproportionately affected by planned job losses, while some workers face their earnings being cut by as much as 45% as airlines fire and then rehire staff on lesser terms and conditions.
The union’s campaign is demanding an extension to the furlough scheme for the industry that goes beyond the UK Government’s end date of 31 October, as well as an end to the “fire and rehire” proposals being put to Scottish airport workers.
It is also demanding that any government support given to the airline industry, in the form of investment or tax relief, comes with conditions attached to protect jobs, wages and employment terms in line with the Scottish Government’s fair work principles.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The launch of the Save Scotland’s Airports campaign by Unite is vitally important in concentrating the minds of the Scottish and UK governments on the immense pressure the civil aviation industry is under.
“The scale of the challenge is massive and that’s why we need all politicians to support our campaign demands, which focus on the condition of protecting jobs and the terms and conditions of workers associated with any company receiving government support.
“We also need strong support from politicians and the public to ensure that any civil aviation company like British Airways and Menzies Aviation stop and reverse the brutal attacks on jobs and the terms and conditions of the workforce under fire and rehire practices, which could potentially affect take-home pay, we believe, by up to 45%.”
Reduced flight schedules and the omission of Spain from the Scottish Government’s list of ‘quarantine free’ countries has resulted in cuts at airports. Airlines themselves are laying off workers while jobs are being cut at ground services provider Menzies Aviation.
Responding to the job cuts and Unite Scotland’s campaign, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We do not underestimate the scale of the global challenge affecting aviation and aerospace.
“Our immediate priority is providing assistance to workers who have lost their jobs, including through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations – Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) – which provides skills development and employability support, and aims to minimise the time people are out of work.
“We remain in close contact with the trades unions and support their calls for employees whose jobs are affected by this crisis to be treated fairly.
“As part of our £2.3bn package of business support, the Scottish Government has provided business rates relief for aviation, airports and ground handling providers – something that is not available in England or Wales.”
Unite Scotland’s campaign follows a warning from the union that the Scottish aerospace engineering and civil aviation industries “could both be on the brink of terminal decline” without support from the UK and Scottish governments.
The decision by aerospace giant Airbus to cut 1700 jobs in the UK has also had implications for contractors based in Scotland.
Unite Scotland released the findings of a recent study by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) which suggested that almost 5,000 jobs in the country could be at risk due to proposed redundancies in the two sectors. The report found that planned job losses from companies such as Rolls Royce, GE Caledonian, Spirit Aerosystems and Wyman Gordon could lead to a £325 million loss to the Scottish economy and a loss of 2,530 jobs.