Nearly 200 jobs at risk as airline sector sent into spin by coronavirus crisis

Stansted airport baggage handlers face an uncertain future as their company announces big job cuts

Stansted airport baggage handlers face an uncertain future as their company announces big job cuts Picture: BRIAN A JACKSON - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nearly 200 jobs at Stansted airport are on the line as baggage handlers for low-cost airline Ryanair look to slash staff numbers.

ABM Aviation’s Blue Handling business plans to cut its 840-strong workforce by 195 and cut pay by 15% for remaining employees because of the “devastating effect” of the coronavirus crisis on the airline industry.

Staff affected are across all areas, from management down, ABM said.

MORE – Stansted jobs ‘hanging by a thread’, union warnsThe move has attracted strong criticism from union Unite, which has vowed to use “all means at its disposal” to challenge the proposed job losses and pay cuts, which it believes don’t comply with the government’s job retention scheme.

Blue Handling is already bringing back a number of employees from furlough over June and July. Remaining staff will remain on furlough until ABM has confirmation of August flight schedules. Antony Marke, group managing director at ABM Aviation, said the coronavirus crisis was having a “devastating effect on our people, business and our industry”.

Flight schedules were expected to remain “at a significantly reduced rate” for many months to come, he added.

“This decision with regards to Blue Handling roles has not been taken lightly and we do not underestimate the potential impact it has on affected individuals. However, we are doing what is necessary to protect the future of our business and as many jobs as possible.”

Unite described the proposals as “a bitter blow” to hard-working and loyal staff.

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Regional officer Mark Barter said the union was considering “all appropriate industrial and legal avenues to safeguard its members’ livelihoods”.

“Unite does not believe that these proposals are lawful or in compliance with the government’s job retention scheme.

“Unite will be working hard to prevent the proposed job losses and totally unrealistic pay cuts. ABM is expecting remaining staff to do more while paying them less.”

It was a “clear example” of employers “jumping the gun”. Government should stop dithering and announces a comprehensive package for the ailing sector, he said.

A further delay on this would have a “severe impact” on the economy around Stansted, the union warned. It has carried out research which warned thousands of jobs could be lost unless government action is taken to safeguard them.

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