Ports of Jersey is cutting up to 65 jobs to help it cope with the impact of corona virus.
Facing a 90% drop in passenger numbers, and huge uncertainty over the future of sea and air travel, the States-owned company has announced that it is cutting up to 15% of its 420-strong workforce.
The company says this will be through a voluntary redundancy, and early retirement, programme and it is not planning compulsory redundancies.
It hopes that the job cuts and any other initiatives - such as employees moving to part-time roles, taking on extra roles or finding new ways of working - will happen by the end of this year.
It expects this cost-cutting programme will save the business £3m a year. Every member of staff - from Air Traffic Controllers and Airport Firefighters to Coastguard Officers and Radar Engineers - is included in the role-reduction process.
Pictured: Ports of Jersey CEO Matt Thomas.
However, the job cuts will not impact Ports’ building programme, which includes creating a new £42m terminal at the Airport by modernising the existing departures’ hall. Plans are, however, on hold while the Government reviews them.
On the job cuts, Chief Executive Officer Matt Thomas said that PoJ had no choice if it was to remain viable both through the pandemic and when travel returns to normal.
“It is with huge regret that we are announcing the reduction in a number of roles in our highly valued team. 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 but, 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 supportive and compassionate way.”
Mr Thomas praised his staff for joining the government’s response to the pandemic, with firefighters driving ambulances, engineers helping to build the Nightingale Hospital and many employees helping to set up the border testing regime.
However, he said: “While we could ride one wave, for the second wave, we need to take these steps.”
Mr Thomas said that, before the pandemic, Ports had expected to make around £12m profit this year but was now expecting a significant loss in 2020. He added that the capital programme had to continue to make the Airport compliant with international regulations.
Asked if Ports could approach its owner - the States - for support, Mr Thomas said that it was not a viable option.
Pictured: Capital projects at the Airport and Harbour will be unaffected by the £3m cost-cutting exercise. At the Harbour, this could include building a berth for building sand and a sill for the Old Harbour.
“We are an incorporated company with all the freedoms and responsibilities that comes with that,” he said. “We were not even eligible for the co-funded payroll scheme. With our own assets and resources, we need to make decisions based on our own strategic plan. It is not for us to tell the Government what to do and we are not planning on taking resources from them.”
Mr Thomas added that Ports would now be working with staff to discuss options with them.
“We are very proud of the culture we have and our staff, who are also very proud and highly engaged. Are they anxious? Of course, they are. We will answer any question they ask but the reality is, when you talk about a programme that ultimately fewer people here, they will feel it very deeply.
“While I’m sure they understand the challenges, that won’t take away the significance of this announcement. How we look after them and their families will now be key. It is our intention to work through this collaboratively.”
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