Renfrewshire MP Gavin Newlands has called for immediate action to protect aviation jobs across the community, after accusing the UK Government of “sticking their head in the sand” over the economic crisis in the industry.
Hundreds of airport jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic, with companies and contractors laying off staff as the industry struggles.
Other countries have spent billions to support the sector, with France pledging over €15 billion to save over 100,000 jobs, and Germany extending its furlough scheme for a further two years.
But the UK has yet to announce any plans for action to support one of Renfrewshire’s biggest employers, despite a promise in March that “sector-specific” help would be available.
Around 1 million jobs around the UK are reliant on aviation and aerospace, with Renfrewshire a leading centre of employment.
Speaking in a debate on aviation in the Commons on Thursday, the Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP hit out at UK Government inaction in failing to support jobs in Renfrewshire and beyond.
He said: “From the very start of the pandemic the Scottish Government have provided specific support to aviation jobs by giving firms a year’s business rates holiday. The UK Government have sat back and allowed thousands of jobs to be lost.
“France and Germany have both rolled out real support packages for aviation and other industries, because they know the importance of keeping our economy going and protecting employment at a time when government help is needed. In contrast UK ministers have had their head in the sand and ignored calls for immediate action.
“We’re now told there will be a review of the industry, but workers at Glasgow Airport and across the region don’t need reviews – they want action now to ensure we have an industry employing people in the long term.
“The effects on the industry and its supply chain are clear to see with 700 workers made redundant from Rolls-Royce, 160 from Menzies Aviation, scores lost from British Airways, Swissport laying off over 300 and NCP sacking 20 people. Unfortunately these job losses, affecting households across Renfrewshire, are just the tip of the iceberg.
“It is disgraceful that thousands of my constituents have been left hanging due to the inaction and delay of UK ministers, while at the same time companies such as British Airways have bullied staff into massive pay cuts with not a word from the Government.
“At a time of such deep crisis we need leadership from those who control the purse strings – so far we have only seen dither and delay. If the UK Government think doing nothing is a strategy, maybe they should hand the powers to the Scottish Government who actually want to do something to protect our workers.”