Heathrow catering company plans to make 1,068 workers redundant – there’s not enough demand for airline meals
The Heathrow catering company DO & CO is planning to make 1,068 workers redundant, as there is not enough work for them – with so few flights. The Austrian-owned company’s biggest customer is British Airways, with a 10 year BA contract. The total in the company to have lost their jobs will be 1,377, including voluntary redundancies, since the coronavirus pandemic started in March. Just 507 staff will be left. DO & CO has decided not to use the furlough scheme, which would have seen staff be paid 80% of their wages until at least March 2021. The Unite trade union said DO & CO was the only Heathrow catering company not to engage constructively with the union over furlough. It wants talks and the company not to agree to make the staff redundant before Christmas. Unite says: “We are naming and shaming DO &CO as an example of corporate callousness … and pointing out the indirect reputational damage to British Airways…” If there is going to be a contraction of the aviation sector, with fewer people flying than in 2019 for several years to come, how are staff to continue to be employed, in a company that has no work for them? It is likely that air travel demand will never return to its 2019 level. It shows how vulnerable an area is if too dependent on an airport.
Heathrow catering company plans to axe more than 1,000 workers
The company reportedly refused to furlough staff and instead chose to make them redundant
By Sam Truelove Senior reporter (My London)
10 NOV 2020
Heathrow catering company DO & CO is planning on making more than 1,000 workers
A Heathrow Airport catering company, whose biggest customer is British Airways, has announced it will make more than 1,000 workers redundant.
Austrian-owned DO & CO has said that it will be making 1,068 staff redundant, bringing a total of 1,377 job losses, including voluntary redundancies, since the coronavirus pandemic started in March.
Just 507 staff will be left after the latest jobs’ cull.
DO & CO refused to use the furlough scheme, which would have seen staff be paid 80 per cent of their wages until at least March.
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said DO & CO was the only Heathrow catering company not to engage constructively with the union over furlough. (see Unite press release)
The union called for the company to enter into constructive talks to chart a way forward, utilise the current furlough arrangements and not throw more than 1,000 low-paid workers onto the dole queue in the run-up to Christmas.
Unite regional officer Shereen Higginson said: “DO & CO is the only catering company at Heathrow that has refused point blank to enter into constructive talks with the union over furlough arrangements. It is also delaying discussions on the new jobs support scheme (JSS).
“It is refusing to discuss the furlough extension arrangements into December as outlined by the government.
“We are naming and shaming DO &CO as an example of corporate callousness in the middle of a global pandemic – and pointing out the indirect reputational damage to British Airways being associated with this catering company.
“When passengers board their planes, many of them flown by British Airways, they expect meals and drinks, which are provided by an invisible army of aviation caterers who are some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
“Throwing more than 1,000 catering workers onto the dole queue as we enter a second lockdown, when new jobs will be almost non-existent, shows a lack of humanity and common decency.”
DO & CO operates dozens of kitchens in 12 countries, and specialises in airline catering, international event catering and food for restaurants, lounges and hotels.
The company reported that its global revenues fell by 87 per cent between April and June because of the pandemic, reports The Guardian.
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye warned in June that as many as 25,000 jobs could be lost due to the pandemic.
He said: “76,000 people are employed at Heathrow. That represents one-in-four households in the local community, so if we start cutting jobs on mass that has a devastating impact on local communities, including the Prime Minister’s own constituency (Uxbridge and South Ruislip), which is only a few miles from the airport.
“What we’ve heard already from the airlines is that they are cutting around a third of all employees, so that would be 25,000 people out of work.
“That would be a devastating blow to West London and the Thames Valley.”
DO & CO did not respond to requests from MyLondon for comment.
JOBS AXE British Airways’ caterer axes over 2,000 staff – leaving just 300 workers to make in-flight meals
By Stephen Moyes
2 Sep 2020, (The Sun)
BRITISH Airways’ caterer is axing 2,134 staff, leaving just 300 workers to make in-flight meals.
Do&Co announced the redundancies just a couple of months into a ten-year contract with BA.
British Airways’ caterer has axed over 2,000 staff – leaving just 300 workers to make in-flight meals. The jobs will go at its 172,000 sq ft new purpose-built headquarters at Heathrow airport.
The Austrian company has been hit by the Covid-19 downturn in passenger numbers.
In a letter to staff, it says: “In most cases we have seen a reduction in workload in excess of 85 per cent across all contracts, including British Airways.”
“The proposed redundancies may affect up to 2134 employees across roles defined as either manual, clerical, culinary, managerial or technical out of a total of 2434 employees.”
Unite regional officer Shereen Higginson said: “When passengers board their planes, they expect meals and drinks, which are provided by an invisible army of aviation caterers.
“But now about 3,000 of them out of a total Heathrow catering workforce of 4,500 are facing the axe as key catering companies refuse to look to the long-term when the aviation and tourism sectors take-off again in the post-pandemic economy.
“What we find even more disturbing is that we can see that managements are using Covid-19 as a smokescreen to cut long-standing employment terms and conditions.
“These catering firms already pay our members desperately low wages and refuse to pay the London living wage, currently £10.75 an hour.
“There is now the suggestion that some workers do part-time work for just 16 hours per week – which is not financially feasible for our members as west London has a high cost of living.”https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/12558012/british-airways-caterer-axe-jobs/
Heathrow area risks fate of 1980s mining towns, says airport boss – area too dependent on the airport
Perhaps even more than other airports like Gatwick and Luton, a large part of the economy around Heathrow has become over-dependent on the airport. Now the CEO of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye has said boroughs like Hounslow risk becoming like “a mining town in the 1980s” with the collapse in air traffic putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk. Many more people work in businesses associated with Heathrow, than directly for the airport itself. In August, Heathrow had around 1.4 million passengers, which is less than 20% of its “normal” amount. People are not flying for leisure, due to the risk of Covid itself, or the need to quarantine. There are few business trips, as they are being replaced by Zoom etc. Many in the aviation sector do not think levels of flying will return to their 2019 levels for 2-3 years, or more – if ever. Heathrow had losses of £1.1bn in the first half of 2020. Recently Heathrow issued formal section 188 notices, allowing it to potentially fire and rehire some 4,700 employees, after months of negotiations with unions representing its directly employed ground staff failed to produce an agreement. Section 188 means the airport can bypass negotiations after a 45-day period has elapsed. There might overall be 25,000 Heathrow-related job losses.