The Workers Union has urged the transport sector to ‘scale up recruitment.’ The announcement came after air transport giants EasyJet and British Airways cancelled flights, partially due to a spike in COVID infections amongst staff.
The cancellations come at an awkward time for the airline industry, as schools break up and families look to jet away in search of sunshine.
British Airways cancelled around 100 flights, although the company claimed that only a small proportion of these (5 percent) were directly impacted by a drop in staff numbers. However, EasyJet seem to have been more squarely affected by COVID, with 200 flights cancelled last weekend – despite placing standby crews on alert.
Karen Dee, the chief executive of the Airports Operators Association, told the BBC that ‘…we do think that there will be queues at peak times over the Easter period.’ She went on to say that the industry needed an injection of ‘ten of thousands of staff’ as demand continues to rise in the post-travel restriction era.
According to Dee, the country’s major transport hub, Heathrow Airport, requires an additional 12,000 staff alone.
She added: ‘We’ve started this process some time a go, but actually with those scale of numbers, particularly in a tight labour market, it is going to take us some time unfortunately,”
The Workers Union Says…
A spokesperson for The Workers Union said “nowhere is the concept of ‘freedom’ more fundamental than in the transport industry. There is little doubt that it needs more staff, and it needs them urgently. There is little doubt that the P&O Ferries debacle has set people thinking about what lurks beneath the glossy brochures. Both of these factors are major stumbling blocks that require resolution if the road to recovery is to be as smooth as possible.
Yet with the ‘living with COVID plan,’ we also need to debate whether the idea of being asked, rather than required to stay at home if displaying symptoms of corona, is also a factor in the spread of the virus amongst working people.