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Protests held over easyJet base closures

Unite has urged the Government to support workers in civil air transport.

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Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Workers have staged protests over a decision by easyJet  to close a number of UK bases, amid fresh calls for Government help.

Demonstrations took place held on Thursday at Stansted and Southend airports, where the airline will cease operations from the end of the month.

A similar protest will be held on Friday at Newcastle, where easyJet is also closing its base.

Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver said job losses caused by the announcement will bring “hardship and misery” to cabin crew and local communities.

“The level of disgust and anger felt by our members following the decision to close the bases is extraordinary.

“Many of the affected workers who have worked for easyJet for many years have been made ill by the way they have been treated including being diagnosed with stress and anxiety.

“Workers understand that easyJet is a business but from the outset cabin crew were prepared to make sacrifices be that going part-time, working on seasonal contracts, reductions in pay and unpaid leave to preserve jobs.

“The UK Government need to take immediate action to support workers in civil air transport in work, rather than in unemployment.

“Many European and international governments are providing assistance to workers in aviation which inevitably means that UK workers are forces to disproportionately shoulder the burden of job losses and base closures as a direct result of our governments inaction.”

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Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

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Members of Unite and easyJet staff protest outside Southend Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “We have had to take the very difficult decision to close three UK bases as a result of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, compounded by quarantine measures in the UK which is impacting demand for travel.

“Working closely with our employee representatives, I am pleased that we have been able to identify ways to significantly reduce the number of proposed compulsory redundancies through providing enhanced voluntary redundancy packages for all UK crew alongside additional options like part-time and seasonal contracts, base transfers and unpaid leave which we expect to result in reducing the number of job losses overall.

“We would like to reassure customers due to fly from these airports that we are now contacting anyone whose flight is affected with clear advice on their options which include rerouting via alternative airports or receiving a full refund.

“I know this is a very difficult time for our pilots and crew and I would like to thank them for their continued professionalism.”

PA