One of the UK’s largest trade unions, the Unite Union has launched legal action on behalf of 1,858 ex-Monarch Airlines staff who were made redundant when the airline suddenly fell into administration on Monday.
The vast majority of the carriers near 2,100 staff were told they would no longer have a job when administrators, KPMG took over Monarch’s affairs. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has complained of the “shabby” treatment of staff who were forced to call a premium rate phone number to find out more information.
Unite has said it will lodge employment tribunal proceedings over the lack of consultation leading up to the mass redundancies. The union says the law in the UK is clear – employers must give at least 45 days notice of their intention to make workers redundant.
In the weeks before Monarch’s demise speculation had been mounting that the charter airline was in financial difficulty. Yet despite the rumours, senior executives denied the carrier was in trouble. The true scale of Monarch’s problems only came to light when the airline approached the UK government.
Unions wants staff to receive statutory redundancy pay
The union is also calling for employees to receive statutory redundancy pay – something they claim the administrators have so far failed to organise. The payments are legally required for any employees who have been with the company for two years or more.
“Through no fault of their own, former Monarch workers are out of pocket and out of a job,” commented Oliver Richardson on behalf of Unite.
“While, understandably, a lot of the focus is on passengers, Unite is determined to ensure that Monarch workers, who worked so hard to try and turn the airline around, are not left high and dry.”
Monarch staff should start receiving information packs within days
For its part, KPMG has said that it is doing everything within its power to help the ex-Monarch employees. Blair Nimmo, a partner at KPMG said the administrators had retained the airline’s HR team and set up a so-called ‘Redundancy Payments Office’ to process claims.
“Since our appointment, one of our key priorities has been to speak to all of the companies’ employees across all locations and provide them with the support and assistance they need at this distressing time,” said Nimmo.
Monarch staff should start expecting to receive a lot more information from the administrators in the next few days to help them submit claims and make plans for the future. KPMG also plans to hold job fairs to find staff new positions as quickly as possible.
Employers in Luton and elsewhere are willing to take on Monarch staff
While declining to name the companies in question, Nimmo said that employers in Luton “and elsewhere” had been in contact about positions they had open and waiting to be filled.
However, many are unhappy that Monarch was allowed to fall into administration and then cease trading so quickly. Many have blamed the UK government but a spokesperson for the Department of Transport told Reuters: “Monarch started discussions with us but did not formally make a request before the company went into administration.”
Monarch’s failure and the way employees were made redundant so suddenly comes in stark contrast to how things have unfolded at both Alitalia and airberlin. Both carriers have also fallen into administration but government loans have allowed them to continue flying as a more orderly sale of assets and redeployment of staff gets underway.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.