Airbus staff support cut in working hours to save jobs

Russell Hart / Alamy Stock Photo

Airbus workers in Flintshire have voted to cut their working week by up to a tenth in order to save jobs.

Unite members at the Broughton plant voted “overwhelmingly” in support of the proposals which, if taken forward by the company, will see their hours cut by 5-10% for a short period of time. This will avoid the need to make compulsory redundancies, but it is understood that some of the 6,000 people employed at the site have decided to take voluntary redundancy.

According to reports, the reduced hours arrangement will be in place for around 12 months and will begin when the furlough scheme comes to an end. This is currently scheduled for 30 April, but Rishi Sunak is facing calls to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to later in the year.

Workers could lose about 6.6% of their pay, although Airbus is reportedly making up some of the shortfall in wages.

Like many firms in the aviation sector, Airbus has been hit hard by the fall in international travel during the pandemic. Last year it announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs globally by summer 2021, including roles in Broughton and Bristol.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales regional secretary, said: “Whilst it is not ideal that our members have had to commit to a shorter working week, this decision should be viewed against the background of an unprecedented crisis in global aviation.

“This solution to the crisis faced by Airbus is one that could be deployed to other manufacturing sites across Wales in order to avoid large scale redundancies. These unprecedented times require creative solutions.”

Daz Reynolds, Unite convenor at Airbus, said: “The senior trade union team at Airbus are delighted that the workforce have backed the proposal we have negotiated with Airbus to save jobs. This is a short term measure that will protect highly skilled jobs at Broughton, including the fourth year apprentices who are looking for a long term future with Airbus.

“Coronavirus has been devastating for the aerospace sector and the past year has been extremely difficult for the site. After losing almost 1,000 jobs through voluntary redundancy today’s result is extremely welcome for all our members.

“This result gives us a route out of the current crisis and we now look to the future and better times ahead, we will continue to work constructively with the company to secure a long term future for this plant and everyone employed here.”

Airbus said it was delighted members had supported the proposal which was “rooted in helping save jobs”.

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