THE recruitment company that provides temporary production labour to Airbus' Broughton plant has confirmed it has started a redundancy consultation process for 500 furloughed workers.

On Monday, the Unite trade union stated its determination to support the agency staff members directly affected.

Guidant Global says it made the difficult decision due to Airbus not needed temporary production staff during the coronavirus pandemic as airlines around the globe ground their fleets and defer the delivery of new aircraft.

The 500 affected staff will continue to be furloughed, meaning they will be on the UK government’s job retention scheme that pays 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 a month, during the 45 day consultation period.

A Guidant Global spokesperson said: “Guidant Global client, Airbus, has recently confirmed the need to reduce its temporary production and production support labour provided by Guidant employees.

"This follows a review of Airbus' operational requirements against the COVID-19 environment.

"This decrease in operational requirements is anticipated for the medium term, therefore, Guidant Global, further to a decision to furlough its employees, has made the difficult decision to start the redundancy consultation process for those workers affected.

"This means that the workers affected will continue to be furloughed for 45 days through the consultation process.

"This decision is not one we have taken lightly and over the coming weeks and months we will work closely with the workers directly affected to offer support and guidance during this difficult time.”

It follows the decision by Airbus to furlough approximately 3,200 members of its own core production workforce as well as reducing temporary labour supplied by Guidant.

An Airbus spokesperson said: "Airbus continues to evaluate its operational requirements against the COVID-19 environment. This includes ongoing reviews of temporary contracts against future needs, skills and competencies. The latest reviews identified a need to reduce temporary production and production-support labour provided by Guidant and that situation remains unchanged.

"We are extremely grateful to our Guidant colleagues for their support and continue to work in close partnership with all our temporary labour providers to adapt our workforce as required.

"It is not appropriate for Airbus to comment on the long-term plans of the employees of another organisation."

Unison says these are extremely worrying times for the Broughton workforce.

Daz Reynolds, Unite Convenor at the Airbus Broughton plant, said: “The workforce that I represent is today extremely worried about what the future will bring for them and their families. Losing up to 500 workers at the plant is devastating for the individuals concerned but also raises questions for everyone else employed on site and in the supply chain.

"Unite has worked extremely constructively with the company to try and steer a path for the business through this unprecedented crisis, however today’s news has come as a body blow to the whole plant. We need to protect the highly skilled and dedicated workforce at Broughton.

"We intend to fully understand the rationale behind this decision by Airbus and are exploring all our options to both oppose these job losses whilst also ensuring the whole plant is able to emerge from these unprecedented times with the ability to continue its status as a central cog in Airbus European operations”.

This week, Airbus revealed it lost 481 million euros (£419 million) in the first three months of the year.

Demand for flights has collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with airlines grounding the majority of their fleets and deferring the delivery of new planes.

Revenues were down 5 per cent for the European plane-maker, which has UK sites at Broughton and Filton near Bristol, compared with the same period in 2019, while commercial aircraft deliveries were down from 162 to 122.