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Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 16 June 2020

Protection of workers in the airline industry

Tens—probably hundreds—of thousands of jobs are under threat in aviation. That might not be the case if the Government were to keep their own promise or follow international examples of sector support. Indeed, I have heard tonight that 310 jobs at Menzies Aviation are under threat—160 of them at Glasgow airport in my constituency. This Government have a funny way of showing support. On Sunday a Home Office source said:

“It is no surprise that the airline industry are focusing on their bottom line over public safety. The British public already have a dim view of the aviation sector but putting profit over people's lives is a new low even for them.”

I think it is safe to say that the aviation sector is not feeling the love right now.

One part of the aviation sector that is absolutely not feeling the love from anyone is British Airways. Its horrendous firing and rehiring plans for tens of thousands of loyal workers drove me to present the Employment (Dismissal and Re-employment) Bill to protect all workers from facing these horrendous practices. Incidentally, that Bill has had support from every party in this House, and I ask the Government to adopt it.

The petition states:

The Petition of the residents of the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North,

Declares that many workers in the airline industry are currently under threat of being dismissed from their posts and then being rehired on lesser terms and conditions and salary; notes that most other European countries have legislation in place to prevent such mistreatment and to protect workers from management abuse and threats, benefitting both employees and the wider economy; notes the volume of correspondence being received by Members’ offices regarding reports of this practice at British Airways; and notes that the Employment (Dismissal and Re-Employment) Bill, which aims to protect workers from management abuse, has already been presented in the House.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to bring forward legislation to prevent firing and re-hiring practices and protect workers from management abuse.

And the petitioners remain etc.


Conduct of Mr Dominic Cummings during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the five years since my election to this place, very little has elicited a stronger constituent reaction than the actions of Dominic Cummings in driving to Durham to self-isolate. In fact, one of the few things to rival it was the Prime Minister’s anaemic, craven and wholly inadequate response to the whole affair; the Prime Minister clearly has an issue telling truth to power. We should be in no doubt that Mr Cummings broke the rules. With regard to his infamous dynamic eyesight test, I have not spoken to anyone, including a good number of Conservatives, who bought the “Going out for a drive to local beauty spots with my entire family in tow to test my eyesight” line. In fact, I think it would be better for him to confirm that this was not true, as the alternative—that the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser decided that this was an appropriate action—speaks to the quality of advice that the Prime Minister is in receipt of. At a time when many of our constituents could not even travel to say their final goodbyes to loved ones, the actions of Mr Cummings, and those of the Government in justifying them, are indefensible.

The petition states:

The Petition of the residents of the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North,

Declares that the conduct of the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor, Mr Dominic Cummings, driving 260 miles to Durham during lockdown for childcare reasons when he and his wife were displaying symptoms of COVID-19, was against the UK Government advice to “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”; further declares that the consistent support from the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet for Mr Cummings’ actions have undermined the UK Government’s own public health messaging.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to conduct an inquiry into the conduct of the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor, and whether his continued employment is beneficial to addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the petitioners remain, etc.