×

UPDATE 1-Trade union Unite to pursue legal action for Monarch workers who lost jobs

lost jobs@ (Adds quote from government, pilot)

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - British trade union Unite said on Wednesday it would launch legal action on behalf of over 1,800 workers who lost their jobs when Monarch Airlines went in to administration earlier in the week.

The airline collapsed on Monday and made 90 percent of the staff on Monarch Airlines and Travel Group redundant after falling victim to intense competition for flights and a weaker pound.

The union said it would lodge employment tribunal proceedings over the company's failure to consult the workers on redundancies, and said the employers had not given the necessary notice or statutory pay.

"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," Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said in a statement.

"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 by former Monarch workers."

After entering administration, Monarch flights were grounded immediately, in contrast to a similar case in Germany where a government loan kept Air Berlin flying when it too entered administration earlier this year, to give it time to negotiate with potential investors.

Britain's Department for Transport said Monarch did not request a bailout before its collapse.

"Monarch started discussions with us but did not formally make a request before the company went into administration," a spokesman for the department said.

Administrators KPMG are in the process of selling off the airline's assets, including its slots at airports, prepaid fuel, property, plant and equipment, a spokeswoman said.

The Civil Aviation Authority said it had repatriated 23,000 out of 110,000 Monarch customers who were on holiday when the firm went bust.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) also said it would seek compensation on behalf of its members for the "shabby" treatment of staff. It said Monarch staff were even asked to ring a premium-rate number to hear about their redundancies.

A former pilot for Monarch, who declined to be named, said that employees had hoped for a deal with another carrier.

"We dont have any information at this stage as to why a deal with another carrier could not be reached or who was ultimately responsible for walking away from the negotiations," he told Reuters in an email.

"However I believe Monarch management had the best interest of the employees and company at heart throughout the process." (Reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Victoria Bryan in Berlin; editing by Stephen Addison)