Keir Starmer warns thousands of jobs ‘on the line’ as Labour demands coronavirus rescue package for aviation sector
Keir Starmer said thousands of jobs were now ‘on the line’ in Britain’s aviation sector. (PA)
The Government is being urged to stop a wave of redundancies in the aviation sector with a “robust” rescue package for firms hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “thousands of jobs are now on the line” as he called for a plan “to protect this vital part of the economy”.
A report published last week by the New Economics Foundation said up to 124,000 jobs in the aviation industry and its supply chains were at risk of being lost in the next three months as firms continue to ground their fleets.
Meanwhile British Airways has come under fire from MPs and trade unions after it unveiled plans to cut 12,000 jobs and change working conditions for its remaining staff.
The move was branded a “disgrace” by MPs on the Commons Transport Committee — prompting BA chief Willie Walsh to say the company had acted in a “perfectly lawful manner” as it battles to stay afloat.
Speaking to the Mirror, Sir Keir called on ministers to oversee a rescue deal to stem the job losses — with state help tied to conditions that would bar them from sacking large chunks of their workforce.
Companies in receipt of the support should also be required to cut pollution and ensure they are based in the UK for tax purposes, Labour said.
Sir Keir told the paper: “Labour called for and welcomed the furlough scheme, but it is a not a long-term solution to the oncoming jobs crisis.
“The support ministers promised for the aviation industry months ago has not materialised and thousands of jobs are now on the line.”
And he added: “The conduct of British Airways in particular has been appalling, threatening tens of thousands of workers with redundancy at the peak of the crisis.
“The Government was too slow to respond to the health crisis and now it risks being too slow in responding to the jobs crisis.
“Ministers must act now and deliver a robust plan to protect this vital part of the economy.”
Responding to the call, a Government spokesperson said: “The aviation sector is important to the UK economy and will be able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees, and VAT deferrals.
“We’re continuing to work closely with the sector and are willing to consider the situation of individual firms, so long as all other government schemes have been explored and all commercial options exhausted, including raising capital from existing investors.”