Most cabin crew and other airline workers on reduced working time are now losing up to €80 a week in social protection payments because they have reached the maximum annual payment limit of 234 days.
Aer Lingus cabin crew based at Shannon have also been affected by the reduction in the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP), which took effect this week. The weekly payment has been reduced from €350 to €300 per week.
Further PUP rate reductions are due to take effect in November and February, and the Government aims to phase out the scheme altogether from next February.
The head of Fórsa’s Services and Enterprises Division, Ashley Connolly, said the sustained reduction of income over the last 18 months has put most cabin crew under severe financial pressure.
“The short-term working payment meant that affected crew could receive €40 per day. This topped up their weekly income at a time when they are only receiving 60% of their usual take home pay.
“Now the majority of those receiving the benefit have lost the payment because they’ve reached the annual limit of 234 days. Over the last 18 months cabin crew have seen their incomes reduced to as little as 30% of their basic pay,” she said.
The cuts to the PUP means that the crew laid off at Shannon are now dealing with a significant drop in their weekly income, with no prospect of a return to work, as other sectors of the economy reopen.
“The sustained reduction in incomes means that these workers remain under very severe pressure to meet household bills, mortgage payments and back-to-school costs. The sudden loss of short-term working payments and cuts to the PUP means that these pressures have now increased substantially,” said Ashley.
For over a year, Fórsa has been calling for industry-specific income supports for aviation, on the basis that it will be among the last sectors to recover from pandemic-related recession.
More recently, ICTU’s pre-Budget submission has called for the wage subsidy scheme to be transformed into a short-time work scheme, so that State supports continue for workers in sectors hit by a reduction in demand.
Ashley who addressed the Labour-Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) Aviation Sub Group on Tuesday reiterated the hardship that aviation workers continue to experience affected by the cuts in income supports.
“I’m concerned that there may be a sense that everything is okay because we appear to be returning to normal economic conditions. But things are far from normal for aviation workers, and it’s in nobody’s interests to leave them behind as the economy begins to recover,” she said.
It’s never been more important – or easier – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact us HERE.