ETF calls for immediate financial support for ground handling workers
With estimates outlining that 58.5 per cent of ground handling workers are currently out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ETF has called for better financial support for the sector and its workforce.
A year on since COVID-19 was detected in Europe for the first time, only around 40 per cent of European-based ground staff are believed to be at work. As a result, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) has called for immediate financial support to the airports and ground handling service providers in Europe to protect air safety and the workers’ health, safety and wellbeing, together with the necessary retention of their jobs and salaries.
Based on a survey among members, the ETF estimates that 58.5 per cent of ground handling workers are out of work. Approximately 23 per cent of the European airport-based workforce has been laid off, while 35.5 per cent of the European airport-based workforce is currently on furlough and other short-time work schemes.
European aviation needs an EU-wide plan to protect the aviation ecosystem, including ground handling workers and airport infrastructure. Despite the pleas from all stakeholders active in the sub-sector, the ground handling service providers and their workforce have mainly been left out of state aid packages, fighting for survival without support. The results of this approach being applied across the European Union (EU) are alarming.
“Today’s ground handling job losses will turn into a suffering industry tomorrow. Travel demand will likely return rapidly, and the ground handling sector may not be able to cope without available, skilled and trained staff, which are an essential part of the aviation infrastructure,” said Eoin Coates, ETF‘s Head of Aviation.
The ETF is calling on national governments and the European institutions to provide financial help conditional on protecting jobs to the airports and ground handling service providers. Leaving the sector to fight this battle alone without any resources will be detrimental to the aviation industry, but also air safety, and the workers’ health, safety and wellbeing. Member States must immediately draw up plans for recovery and resiliency of the ground handling sector in the EU.