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1 in 7 Ports Jobs At Risk After Covid Travel Slump

Up to 65 jobs are at risk across Ports of Jersey, following a decline in travel demand this year.

Ports of Jersey has begun consultations with staff and unions on plans to shave £3 million off its annual wage bill.

The cost-saving equates to around 65 staff positions being lost, or approximately 15% of its total workforce.

It's after last month's passenger numbers dropped by 71% at the airport, and 90% at the harbour.

The company's latest forecasts have warned that demand for travel may not return to pre-COVID levels for several years.

CEO Matt Thomas says he hugely regrets having to reduce the number of roles in the 'highly valued' Ports team, but the company 'isn't immune' to the effects of the pandemic:

"I am incredibly proud of the resilience, flexibility and commitment with which all of our team have served our island through the pandemic.

"We have held off looking at job losses for as long as possible. Sadly, we are not immune to the effects of the virus. We understand these changes will have an impact on our team and their families.

"Our focus in the coming weeks will be to help our employees and undertake the voluntary redundancy process in a supporting and compassionate way.

Ports of Jersey CEO Matt Thomas

"We are committed to playing our role in rebuilding our economy and our tourism industry once the worst of the virus has passed. Most of all though, as islanders we rely on connectivity for the way we live our lives.

"We believe that the difficult decision we are taking today will ensure that we are in the best shape to bounce back in the future."

On a company-wide video conference yesterday afternoon, staff were invited to take voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

Mr Thomas tells Channel 103 that while the £3 million savings need to be made, there isn't any fixed number of positions being removed, and bosses want to minimise job losses where possible:

"We're just starting on a process now, inviting voluntary redundancies or early retirement. Equally though, we're going to be very open to people who perhaps have ideas on working more flexibly to suit their lifestyles.

"We've said it's up to 65 roles, but that's a little arbitrary in this case, as we intend to be fully flexible."

Previous changes at Ports of Jersey since the pandemic took hold have already saved £1.5 million, including a freeze on planned recruitment and changes to the company's executive team.

The Unite union says it'll work 'closely and constructively' with bosses to avoid staff facing the prospect of compulsory redundancies.

Unite rep Gareth Lowe says travel disruption is an 'economic reality' of the coronavirus pandemic, and it wants to work with Ports of Jersey 'to manage the situation in the least painful way possible':

"We will work closely and constructively with the Ports of Jersey to mitigate the job losses by exploring voluntary redundancies and early retirement. Unite’s aim is to avoid compulsory redundancy.

"Unfortunately, the dramatic slump in travel to the Channel Islands due to the pandemic is an economic reality.

"As a result, the Ports of Jersey and Unite will work to manage this situation in the least painful way possible. We hope that this will be a short-term scenario until a vaccine comes on stream.

"Unite is giving maximum support to our about 100 members and their families during this difficult period with Christmas just two months away."

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