The two main trade unions representing staff at collapsed airline Monarch are preparing legal action over the handling of nearly 1,900 job losses.
Unite, which represents over 1800 of Monarch’s cabin crew and engineers who were made redundant, said it was launching a claim and employment tribunal over the lack of prior consultation.
The trade union also said the employers had not given the necessary 45-day notice or statutory pay. Instead, KPMG made 1,858 Monarch staff redundant on Monday with no warning period.
The legal action could add millions to the taxpayers’ bill for the collapse of the airline since the airline is bankrupt the funds would have to be met by the government.
Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said:
“Unite is doing everything it can to assist former Monarch workers in securing new jobs, offering free legal advice and launching legal action to secure the compensation they are owed, as well as helping members find jobs with other airlines,”
“The manner in which Monarch went into administration and the way the government allowed it to happen means there is a strong claim for compensation.” A similar case brought on behalf of 1,100 former Redcar steelworkers last year ended with a £6m payout.
KPMG was appointed administrators for Monarch on October 2. On the same day the accountancy giant confirmed 1858 employees were made redundant.
The professional service company said it had provided support to staff and already issued forms for redundancy payments.
A number of the Monarch HR team have been retained to help “get as many people as possible back in to work as soon as possible”, with job fairs will be held by the HR team in coming days and weeks.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), of which around 400 members are Monarch pilots, said it was also seeking compensation for the “handling of the redundancy news.
An email sent in the early hours of Monday to all staff requested them to attend a meeting or contact a conference call at 9am, promising a further conference call for those unable to make the earlier event.
KPMG has faced criticism as staff were charged by their phone company to join the conference call and hear news of their redundancy as the number was a premium-rate phone line.
The 0844 number charged about 50p a minute on some mobile networks, leaving one Monarch pilot with a bill for £38.90 for the call.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, which represents 400 Monarch pilots, said:
“Balpa can confirm that we will also be seeking compensation for the shabby way our members were notified of their company’s demise and their own sacking.”
The firm said the workers would be reimbursed for the charge – a move which Balpa welcomed, saying “common sense has prevailed”.