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2020 REVIEW: June, the flight of the Condor dockers

2020 REVIEW: June, the flight of the Condor dockers

Thursday 24 December 2020

2020 REVIEW: June, the flight of the Condor dockers


As well as the obvious focus on covid, transport and racism were other hot summer topics.

With lockdown restrictions gradually being eased, and official virus cases in single figures, the battle lines were drawn early in the month over how Jersey was going to rebuild its corona-crashed economy.

Ministers put forward their plans, which they labelled “Respond, Recover and Renew”, but one of their number, Senator Sam Mézec, unveiled counter-proposals as the leader of Reform Jersey.

The numbers were stark - experts estimated that the virus would wipe more than £100m of Government income in 2020, and that problems would continue, pushing public finances further and further out of kilter, at a time when the economy could contract by more than 6%.

Revealed just an hour after the council’s plans, the Reform ‘New Deal’ included free primary health care through maintaining the government employment of GPs, writing off debts accrued by households and requiring large private businesses, especially in the finance sector, to offer pension schemes.

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Pictured: Reform launched its own 'New Deal' in June.

Back then, Reform had two members around the ministerial table but, by the end of the year, they had gone to the backbenchers after wrongly calling a vote of no confidence in the chief.

Jersey could add ‘lockdown breaches’ to its list of successful exports in June after a group of island ‘key workers’ were alleged to have broken the rules in the Isle of Man. The matter was even raised in the northern isle’s parliament. Adopting a covid elimination strategy, the Isle of Man joined its three legs with Guernsey’s four to create an ‘air bubble’ between the islands – something that Jersey was once again excluded from.

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Pictured: As if covid wasn't enough, Condor had to deal with a French stevedores' strike in June.

Jersey’s transport frustrations intensified when the only stevedore company in St Malo went into liquidation, immediately impacting Condor’s freight operations and raising fears about passenger sailings over the summer. Hundreds of holiday plans were indeed affected but in the end the dockers did go back to work.

From sea to sky: with Blue Islands receiving government funding to provide an ‘essential’ service to Southampton and London, ministers started talking about ramping up their support even further by lending up to £10m to guarantee Jersey’s air links. 

While things were looking up for Blue Islands, the same couldn’t be said for ground handling agent Swissport after bosses said it was looking to cut half of its British workforce. By the end of the year, a significant portion of the Jersey-based team had, unfortunately, lost their jobs - the demise of Flybe being a significant factor.

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Pictured: Swissport staff were among the many casualties of the pandemic.

In June, business leaders accused the Government of procrastinating over the decision to let tourists back in, claiming that the lack of visitors was suffocating enterprises and costing the economy £500 a minute. Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce issued a statement demanding “quicker action” to kickstart the economy again by letting tourists back into the Island. 

It was one of countless debates during the pandemic about ‘lives versus livelihoods’. With more than 1,000 cases in Jersey this week, that debate shows no sign of abating.

Jersey had its own response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which had grown following the May death of George Floyd while he was being arrested in Minnesota. The island’s political and business leaders were challenged to implement policies and procedures to dismantle institutional racism at a socially distanced “Kneel for George” at the People’s Park.

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Pictured: A statute of Sir George Carteret received more focus in June than it had ever done before.

Not to be outdone by Bristol’s statue tumblers, protestors in Jersey looked at the island’s own record on slavery and found their own bête noire in the darkened form of Sir George Carteret, a 17th century sailor, privateer and founder of a slave trading company.

His statue in St Peter was first painted white and then red. He even got an elaborate set of paper chains. There were calls to remove him but then events took a strange twist when no one could quite work out who paid for him to be put there in the first place.

After much discussion about judging history, putting up plaques and analysing Government accounts, Sir George survived the cull and he remains a rather unremarkable-looking figure hidden under a tree outside a pub, ignored by thousands of motorists every day. 

With the pandemic focusing everyone’s minds, the most significant long-term news of the month slipped its way in like a skilled ninja in a pair of particularly soft slippers. In June, we heard that the island’s runaway population had officially risen to nearly 108,000. This was an extra 1,100 on the previous year, with 1,000 more people coming to the island than leaving, despite a chunk of that period being a full lockdown.

READ MORE...

January, the calm before the storm

February, covid creeps in

March, it hits and we lockdown

April, getting to grips with life under lockdown

May, Jersey's bubble bursts

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