Caterer used by British Airways under fire for laying off kitchen staff

Heathrow Airport

Trade union Unite has hit out a Heathrow Airport catering company for “snubbing” the government’s extension of the furlough scheme and making more than 1,000 workers redundant.

The organisation said that Austrian-owned DO & CO – whose biggest customer is British Airways – was the only Heathrow catering company not to engage constructively with the union over furlough.

The company has said that it will be making 1,068 staff redundant, bringing a total of 1,377 job losses, including voluntary redundancies, since the pandemic started.

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Just 507 staff will be left after the latest jobs cull, according to Unite.

It said the company has turned its back on the financial support available to retain workers in employment with the government announcing that the furlough arrangements have been extended following the four-week national lockdown.

Unite called for the company to enter into constructive talks to chart a way forward, utilise the current furlough arrangements and avoid making 1,000 low-paid workers redundant before Christmas.

Unite regional officer, Shereen Higginson, said: “DO & CO is the only catering company at Heathrow that has refused point blank to enter into constructive talks with the union over furlough arrangements. It is also delaying discussions on the new jobs support scheme (JSS).

“It is refusing to discuss the furlough extension arrangements into December as outlined by the government.

“We are ‘naming and shaming’ DO &CO as an example of corporate callousness in the middle of a global pandemic – and pointing out the indirect reputational damage to British Airways being associated with this catering company.

“When passengers board their planes, many of them flown by British Airways, they expect meals and drinks, which are provided by an invisible army of aviation caterers who are some of the lowest paid workers in the country.

“Throwing more than 1,000 catering workers onto the dole queue as we enter a second lockdown, when new jobs will be almost non-existent, shows a lack of humanity and common decency.”

Vienna-based DO & CO operates 32 gourmet kitchens in 12 countries. As well as airline catering, it specialises in international event catering and food for restaurants, lounges and hotels.

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Andrew Seymour

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