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Baggage handling firm criticised over decision to make 110 workers redundant

PUBLISHED: 12:42 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 May 2020

Unite bosses have accused Blue Handling, a baggage handling company at Stansted, of sacking 110 staff members rather than furloughing them. Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

Unite bosses have accused Blue Handling, a baggage handling company at Stansted, of sacking 110 staff members rather than furloughing them. Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

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A baggage handling firm criticised for sacking over 100 staff at Stansted Airport during the Covid-19 crisis has said it was necessary to protect the future of the business.

Unite has criticised Blue Handling, a company that was set up in partnership with Ryanair in 2019, after it wrote to 110 staff to tell them that they would be made redundant rather than furloughed.

Antony Marke, group managing director at ABM Aviation – the company that runs Blue Handling – said: “The personal and economic impact that Covid-19 has had on our people and our industry is simply devastating.

“We are a people business, and this decision has not been taken lightly. We are doing what is necessary to protect jobs and our business in the long-term.

“We have offered alternative local work for all these individuals within the NHS. We are proud be able to offer this and will continue to focus on protecting our business for the future.”

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ABM Aviation said that aviation industry was among the hardest hit industries during the pandemic and that the company was under no obligation to make use of the government’s furlough scheme.

However Unite regional officer Mark Barter said: “Unite has been working with the company to find ways to minimise any potential costs.”

He said the union had made a number of alternative proposals but that, in his view, “ABM has decided not to do the right thing for their former employees”.

He added that their decision was “causing their families extreme distress”, adding: “This decision goes completely against the purpose of the government’s Job Retention Scheme.

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“The Stansted branch of Unite is demanding that Blue Handling rehire these workers and take advantage of the government’s scheme without delay. Our momentum at grassroots level to oppose ABM’s decision is growing considerably.

“This demonstrates why the government needs to change the law so that employees can claim unfair dismissal from day one rather than having to suffer insecurity and exploitation for two years before having any employment protection.”

A Ryanair spokesman said: “Blue Handling/Omni Serv is not part of Ryanair, they provide our handling services at London Stansted Airport.”

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