Crisis support to aviation and the right to retrain

Securing jobs and skills through the Covid and climate crises

Tens of thousands of aviation sector jobs are at immediate risk as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and the measures put in place to contain it. Across Europe airline owners and executives are lobbying for, and in many cases receiving, generous unconditional loans and underwritings from governments to prop up their struggling businesses. Yet these interventions do little to protect the wellbeing of workers, nor do they address major challenges facing the sector, such as the need to stabilise core national and regional infrastructure and to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

This briefing calls for an urgent change of course, and proposes a new approach to bailouts in the UK aviation sector which protects workers’ interests while steering the sector through its transition. We propose a co-ordinated sector-wide package to support workers in the aviation sector in transitioning through a period of disruption and uncertainty, including:

  1. A new bespoke, sector-wide, crisis support plan and package for aviation, with oversight from a new sector panel with representation from unions, businesses and government.
  2. Commitment to a union-negotiated limit on redundancy rates across the sector.
  3. Delivery of a new skills and employment strategy, including conversion of the job retention scheme into a new job reskilling programme which protects employment while workers are supported to transition into alternative roles.
  4. Accelerating the Government’s review of aviation sector tax arrangements and introduction of new mechanisms which ensure a fair contribution from all employers to the costs of the retraining programme.
  5. Ensuring a fair public return on bailouts. Taking equity stakes in all large businesses bailed out in the aviation sector, and attaching the right to take further stakes (warrants) with any other financial support. Attaching conditions to all financial support to suspend shareholder dividends, to end excessive executive pay and unethical tax practices, and to require investment in green technology and decarbonisation.

Photo: Unsplash

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