Labour Abroad: What’s happening overseas?
Towards the end of last week, UK witnessed a widespread flight chaos as its aviation industry was unable to cope with the high demand as countries gradually recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The British aviation industry faced chronic staff shortages, and it was not receiving the help that it needed. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, delays were day-long, and massive queues formed to the extent of snaking out of the terminal building. Yikes, not something someone on a holiday would want to face!
Concerns over the lack of staff was present ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw tens of thousands of employees who were sacked in the UK. The aviation union of UK was unhappy with the British government’s response and felt that the aviation minister should ‘accept some responsibility’ for this ‘inevitable’ crisis. Instead of working with unions and the aviation industry, they were instead blamed by government officials for ‘poor planning’ and ‘overbooking flights they cannot service’. Another maintained that the onus was on the industry to ‘step-up recruitment’.
The natural question that follows is, did the aviation industry ‘step-up’? They did! The aviation industry in the UK lobbied for its government to relax post-Brexit immigration rules to give EU aviation workers special visas so that they could ease the labour crunch. But the government would not be changing its stance anytime soon, leaving the industry in the lurch…
The woes do not end here – it is slated to extend to the railways as disruptions are imminent due to a strike by train conductors over a protracted dispute over pay. In London, more than 4,000 tube employees are also due to go on strike after the Queen’s platinum jubilee. It’s not difficult to imagine the disruption it brings to society, if essential functions like transport is in limbo, due to the animosity between labour and industries on one side, against the government, on the other side. Let’s hope that UK tides through this aviation crunch!
Labour Singapore: What’s happening in Singapore?
Have you been catching up with what’s happening in Singapore’s aviation industry? Ever since Singapore reopened its borders and loosened its vaccinated travel framework, it has seen troves of excited Singaporeans flocking abroad and tourists flocking into Singapore. Singapore Airlines (SIA)’s passenger numbers passed the 1.5 million-mark in April 2022, which is a 13-fold increase from April 2021. That’s not very far from the two million passenger number during pre-COVID times, and it appears that SIA is meeting it step by step by the day.
Our government has stepped in to help the aviation industry by launching a new job portal for prospective aviation industry workers to apply for roles. This initiative is called the OneAviation Careers Hub, an initiative spearheaded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) along with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). It is a one-stop platform that provides career and training advisory, counselling, and job facilitation.
It comes at a time when SIA announced that it is looking to recruit as many as 2,000 cabin crew to meet travel demands, and 800 cabin crew were already recruited in March 2022. Amongst the selected candidates, 60% were returning crew. Our aviation industry is recovering robustly, and our people are responding positively to it. SIA said that the number of applications during this period is three to four times more than pre-COVID period. Our Changi Airport Terminal Two is also reopening in stages after being closed for an extended period during the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hunkered down but made silent preparations for recovery! We keep our fingers crossed and hope that this recovery trajectory continues. This is nothing but uplifting and great news for Singapore’s economy, and the livelihoods of workers in the aviation and its related industries!
A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That’s why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.