Due to persistent labor shortages that are “of the airline industry’s own making,” a major union warned on Friday that the current Easter vacation disruption will be repeated throughout next week’s half-term school holidays and during the summer peak season.
Airlines and airport operators have blamed recent employee shortages on lengthy security and reference checks slowed by government red tape, but the Unite union claims this is a “smokescreen.”
“The aftermath of mass sackings is now chronic staff shortages across the board. Aviation chiefs need to come clean with the public. This is a crisis of their making,” slammed Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham.
“We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis. Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet. It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff. Unite is utterly determined to fight for that,” Graham continued.
At the onset of the pandemic, the Unite boss launched a high-profile campaign against British Airways, which utilized the crisis to lower wages and conditions for long-serving employees. To characterize the strategy, Graham coined the phrase “fire and rehire.”
Industry experts had told airlines, according to the union, that they needed to start employing workers much earlier. “The blame for the current chaos lies with the aviation bosses and their failure to see what was coming,” the union blasted.
In recent months, Unite has taken a stand against a number of big aviation employers, threatening strike action if they refuse to raise pay rates significantly.
On Friday, it was revealed that the union had begun a consultation with every British Airways employee it represents, asking if they would support a strike over an alleged infringement of a recent pay raise agreement.
Although the vote is not an official strike vote, it may serve as a precursor to a full strike vote, which could bring the airline to a halt if a strike is authorized.