The Department of Infrastructure has entered a period of consultation with Apron Section staff at the Isle of Man Airport following a decision to end the Department’s baggage handling and cargo loading service.
The move follows a review of operations and a series of meetings with employees and representatives from Prospect and Unite the Union.
The consultation period will be used to discuss redeployment opportunities within the Department for the 22 members of staff, or to agree terms for redundancy.
The intention is that from May or June this year baggage handling and cargo loading duties, as well as assisting passengers with reduced mobility, will be performed by the handling agents at Ronaldsway on behalf of the airlines operating at the Airport.
The Department’s Apron Section staff will remain in post during the transition to ensure the continuation of services.
Baggage loading is not a statutory function of the Department of Infrastructure and is provided by private sector companies at the vast majority of airports throughout the British Isles.
Ann Reynolds, Director of Ports, said:
‘This is an extremely difficult decision that has been taken after full and frank discussions with staff, supervisors and union officials. After reviewing operational issues and exploring all available options, a recommendation was made to end the baggage handling service provided by our Apron Section staff. This course of action has been endorsed by the Department and we have now entered a period of consultation with our employees.’
‘I wish to thank the members of staff for their many years of service and for their professionalism during recent meetings. In terms of our passengers, we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition, so that it remains business as usual for users of the Airport. We expect the service to be taken on by the Airport’s handling agents within about three months once they have had an opportunity to recruit and train new staff.’
The Department restructured its baggage handling service in 2015 in conjunction with staff and union representatives. A local agreement was established that saw the introduction of Team Based Self Rostering and a five-year guarantee of employment for staff. The Department will seek to honour that commitment by offering alterative positions within DOI to those affected.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said:
‘Staff at the Airport have worked with the Department in an effort to reduce costs and deliver new efficiencies in line with our challenging budget targets. However, it has become apparent that this service has not been achieving the intended outcomes.’
‘The Department is not legally or contractually required to provide a baggage loading service. Stopping the service is the right decision, albeit a difficult one for all concerned. We will now focus on exploring all avenues of redeployment for staff who wish to continue working for the Department.’