More than 1,000 Heathrow catering jobs at risk in new Covid cuts

More than 1,000 jobs are at risk at Heathrow in a catering company serving Covid-stricken airlines such as British Airways, according to union representatives.

Do & Co was making 1,068 staff redundant, the Unite union said, in the latest employment blow for the aviation sector. The company will be left with about 500 staff at Heathrow.

The pandemic has caused dramatic losses and job cuts across the global airline industry and in the supply chain that serves it. Airlines such as BA have already made thousands of job cuts in the UK, and in September the boss of Heathrow warned that local areas could become like “a mining town in the 1980s” because of the extent of job losses.

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Do & Co reported that its global revenues fell by 87% between April and June because of the pandemic.

Unite said the company had refused to put its workers on the government’s newly extended coronavirus job retention scheme, unlike other airline caterers at Heathrow such as Dnata and Gate Gourmet. The job retention scheme will support 80% of the wages of furloughed workers from Thursday, when the new England-wide lockdown begins.

The first of the workers received their redundancy notices on Friday, meaning hundreds could have their jobs made redundant before Christmas.

Shereen Higginson, a regional officer at Unite, said the company’s refusal to use the furlough scheme meant it risked losing out when BA started to increase flights again, as well as leaving some of the UK’s lowest-paid workers unemployed.

“We want this company to engage in the furlough scheme because these are the caterers who are the invisible army of aviation,” she said.

Do & Co was in the process of taking over all catering for BA after winning the contract in 2018. Different groups of workers had transferred to it from previous suppliers in May and October 2020.

Other airport service companies that have cut jobs include the ground handling company Swissport, which cut 4,500 jobs in June.

Do & Co did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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