Whether cabin crew, airfield, cleaning, hotels or retail: we are all airport workers, we are all under attack and we need a united response to the bosses’ threats.
Early September 2020: Estée Lauder workers at Dublin Airport are planning to ballot for industrial action following news that the company aims to enforce compulsory redundancies and ask staff to reapply for fewer jobs. 50 workers at the airport are being made to reapply. Estée Lauder is trying to cut premium pay rates for workers that stay in their roles.
Tanker drivers based at Stanlow oil refinery voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over job. Unite said the workers recorded an “overwhelming” 96.2 per cent vote in favour of industrial action. A total of 14 days of strike action were announced. The union claimed Hoyer was proposing to make six of the 28 drivers employed on the contract redundant, despite the workers having worked throughout the pandemic. The company, they added, was increasingly using agency drivers to fulfil its delivery requirements.
Workers for Bolivia’s Aerial Navigation Airport and Auxiliary Services Administration (Aasana) walked off the job for 24 hours beginning October 21 to demand the payment of their salaries. Aasana “is responsible for the planning, management and administration of the country’s airports as well as traffic management and air navigation. It also has the mission to build, improve and maintain Bolivia’s public and private airports,” according to bnamericas.com .
Flights from Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba and other major terminals were delayed or canceled.
The workers’ wages have not been paid for two months. In addition, there have been delays in the payment of other items such as overtime. Aasana’s director, who was quick to label the stoppage a “caprice” and “abuse,” claimed that the delay was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airport firefighters at Mayotte (Island under French administration) airport are pissed off about imposed transfers of workers to other sites – they went on strike about the issue one year ago. Now they are on indefinite strike since 30th of September 2020.
Management accuses the workers to have sabotaged trucks used by airport security, which allegedly resulted in flights having to be re-routed to La Reunion.
Workers at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) took part in a one-day warning strike October 16, despite government efforts to undermine it. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was prevented from addressing workers to head off the strike when the gates to FAAN headquarters were locked.
Workers are demanding the restoration of full pay. The Nigerian government owes China around $1 billion for building four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. This is paid for by FAAN through cuts in workers’ wages.
The strike takes place under conditions of mass unemployment, poverty and inequality in Africa’s most populous country—which has fueled mass protests against state violence.
Will symbolic protests be enough? We need mobilisation of all transport workers, enforcing a shift in the sector under workers’ control.
“In a show of unity, more than 200 aviation workers demonstrated Tuesday on Parliament Hill, calling on the federal government to release a plan to safely restart the industry crushed by COVID-19. COVID-19 has crippled the industry and cut back operations dramatically. Major airlines have scaled back regional routes and announced major layoffs. This week, Air Transat said it’s cutting half of its remaining flight attendants.
A Facebook group formed with more than 11,000 pilots, flight dispatchers, flight attendants, airport personnel, travel agents and tour operators. Hundreds descended on Parliament Hill Tuesday for a peaceful protest.”
This might only be a symbolic action, but at least seven unions representing workers in the aviation sector called for a joined day of strike on 17th of September 2020. Airport workers and railway workers followed the call, demanding less precarious contracts and an end to the pension reform, which would deteriorate existing conditions.
Workers from Groundforce, Globalia’s ground services subsidiary (‘handling’), at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas airport, have decided to start mobilizing to denounce the chaotic management of temporary contracts – denouncing both the company and the ‘works council’ (trade unions).
According to the organizers of this initiative, a group of fifty Barajas employees, the reason for the protests has been the passivity of the works council, led by UGT. The passive nature of the union led them to organize themselves as a workers’ assembly and call a first demonstration for the next Monday, October 5, at Terminal 2 in Barajas.
These protests come after two meetings, held in September, in which the need to change the way the temporary shifts are managed – workers are often given only three days notice regarding shift changes. Wages are often delayed. There is also an arbitrary allocation of shifts. Faced with this system, the workers’ assembly defends an equitable distribution of hours among all workers.
For the assembly, this precariousness of employment further aggravates the economic situation of the workforce. In fact, the agonizing situation that a growing number of employees are experiencing has led the assembly to take the initiative to create a food bank to help colleagues
Before the COVID-19 crisis broke out, Groundforce had a workforce of 3,700 employees and 180 million turnover.
Heathrow’s a huge workplace with big problems. Covid-19 has grounded fleets of planes, with all the predictable consequences for the airlines and their suppliers. With the same level of predictability, companies like British Airways, Gate Gourmet and Alpha LSG (airline caterers) are using the opportunity to slash staff numbers and hours, and attack remaining workers’ contracts. What with the climate catastrophe also looming, now is the time for a rank-and-file voice to challenge the notion that workers have to choose between (worsening) jobs, and their health and the future of the planet. We need to organise steps to counter the attack of the bosses.
Workers themselves need to lead the discussion about the future of their livelihoods and the planet. This is why we want to set up an independent workers’ coordination here. The aims of the group are to help develop and broaden the power of working class people. It should be a focal point for workers to get together and discuss their situation, devise strategies best suited to them, and then act. There are many different unions at Heathrow, but little unity. We have to organise across departments and professions. Through honest reflection of what’s happening on the ground, our victories and defeats, we can acquire the capabilities we need to build the genuine, bottom-up power in our workplaces and communities and retain the historic memory to sustain them.
With a Heathrow-focused solidarity network, we can link our workplaces with our homes and communities and address problems with housing, the job centre, the home office. By creating our own Heathrow newspaper we can share our experiences and ideas, and try and break down some of the barriers between different groups of workers. We should produce educational groups guided by the participants toward mutual aid. It can be a home where individuals can grow and feel safe.