Nearly 50 jobs are at risk after Aberdeen airport’s passenger and ramp service rejected an extension in the furlough scheme.
Dalcross Handling, who employ around 165 people, announced today they would not take advantage of the five-month furlough extension.
The decision, that puts up to 48 jobs at risk, has been criticised by Unite Scotland with the employment union now offering support to help mitigate redundancies and to work with the company in retaining the workforce based in the north-east.
It is understood questions over staffing levels and the viability of maintaining appropriate levels of health and safety are being raised following the significant reduction in their skilled workforce.
Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite’s members at Dalcross Handling are shocked that the company have chosen to renege on its assurances to staff that if furlough was extended then there would be no need for redundancies.
“Dozens of our members have backed a petition calling for the company to use the furlough scheme and we will be seeking wider public and political support.
“Unite is aware that Dalcross will be vying for additional contracts on the Aberdeen Airport campus and we would implore them to think carefully before continuing on this course of action.
“Our message is clear – use the furlough scheme, protect families’ incomes and work with Unite to protect the jobs of this skilled workforce.”
A Dalcross Handling spokesman said: “We are currently negotiating with colleagues regarding compulsory redundancies at Dalcross Handling (Aberdeen) Ltd.
“What has been well documented is the catastrophic damage that Covid-19 has had on the aviation industry and we have seen a decline in revenue circa 59% this year and the future continues to look bleak.
“The Unite union has aired their concerns in a rather simplistic way and we have already discussed in depth the reasons for proceeding with compulsory redundancies with them.
“We do not go into this lightly and are devastated to find ourselves in this position. This decision is the last resort for the directors of Dalcross Handling (Aberdeen) Ltd, but unless we react to the ongoing crisis within our industry, the company will continue to face further financial hardship throughout this winter, putting the company’s future in jeopardy and further risk of job losses.
“The company has adopted the latest extension to the furlough scheme and has welcomed any assistance that can be given to assist us in protecting jobs. However, with over 30 colleagues who remain on full furlough, as stated by the Government, their jobs remain unviable. This extension to furlough is not supported by government grants to pay employer NICs, pension contributions plus employees continue to accrue leave
“The Chancellor announced that there will be a review of the scheme in January 2021. There remains a real risk that struggling businesses will be required, to once again, contribute to the furlough scheme and there is also little detail as to what happens at the end of the scheme in March 2021 – another possible cliff-edge?
“There have been early discussions with other airline operators but due to the volatility surrounding air travel, the financial gain would be negligible.
“For clarity, the company did not state that adopting the extended furlough scheme would stave off the possibility of compulsory redundancies.
“We anticipate that we may be required to reduce from 165 to 117 employees, circa 29% as opposed to a 59% reduction in revenue, and we can assure our colleagues and the wider public that Dalcross Handling (Aberdeen) Ltd remain committed to adopting not only our already well-established company procedures but that of the Health and Safety Executive, and utterly refute any attempt by the Unite union to discredit our well-renowned name.”
Unite Scotland commissioned the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) in July which projected 1,500 direct job losses in civil aviation across Scotland.
The FAI stated that this will create a knock-on effect of job losses and spill-over effects in the wider economy leading to total job losses of around 2,330.
The direct effect of these redundancies on Gross Value Added (GVA) is around a £90m loss to the Scottish economy.
The overall economic impact is a loss of around £140m to the Scottish economy after accounting for knock-on effects.