Brussels Nov 5th - HLC & ITF lobby EU parliament against ground handling deregulation
It's been a bad week for Ryanair. First it was on the losing side of a court ruling, which means that a dismissed employee based in Norway has the right to have their case heard in a Norwegian court. Ryanair had claimed that because the employee worked on planes registered in Ireland that it was exempt from Norwegian labour laws.
Then the Competition Commission ruled that Ryanair must sell off 5% of its holding in Aer Lingus, an airline in which it has been trying to gain a controlling interest.
28th August 2013
The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to block the merger of AA and US Air, claiming that it would reduce competition. If successful, the suit could endanger thousands of jobs at American, which applied for bankruptcy protection in 2011.
In a disturbing development, internet accounts intended to present the views of the majority of Ryanair pilots have been closed. The closures have not been explained, but follow an attempt by Ryanair to prevent use of its name except by officials of the company.
12th August 2013
Star Alliance and Sky Team back investment at Heathrow rather than attempting to tackle capacity issues by spending tens of billions on another airport.
Hounslow and Ealing councils consider how various plans for the future of aviation might impact on residents and the local economies. Proposals that have been put forward range from closing Heathrow altogether to a four runway hub design.
Gatwick makes a formal submission to the Davies Commission for a second runway to the south of the airport
23rd July 2013
Another ill-considered comment from the Mayor of London
Advice on HIV and AIDS for workers in the transport sector from the ITF
The government is accused of gambling with British lives by selling off an 80% share of the NHS's blood plasma service to an American private equity company
Heathrow puts forward a choice of three proposals for a third runway to the Davies Commission, with suggested locations to either the south-west, north-west or north-east. Heathrow's preferred option is for a runway to the north-west, running to the south of and parallel with the M4.
Meanwhile Boris Johnson is proposing to close Heathrow and claiming that he would use the area to build housing. He fails to explain how people would be able to afford to live in these houses with the loss of up to 140,000 jobs in West London from the closure of the biggest workplace in Europe.
17th July 2013
The TUC calls on the Health and Safety executive to introduce a specific upper temperature for the workplace to protect employees from ill health caused by hot working conditions. The current guidelines merely state that "the temperature in the workplace shall be reasonable at all times", leading to a wide variety of interpretations.
Turkish Airlines ignores a court ruling that using strike breakers is illegal.
ALPA condemns the release of raw data from flight recorders from Asiana flight 214 before investigations are complete. The Airline Pilots Association say that this has led to the media presuming pilot error, when the real causes of the accident may well be entirely different.
Boeing's problems with the Dreamliner continue
Union members need to understand the dirty tricks that the Tories are playing to deprive them of a say in the decisions in Westminster. The Conservatives would be only too happy to see the unions pull funding from the Labour Party and undermine their prospects of winning elections. But Labour needs to take stock as well and stop treating the millions of people who donate to it via their unions as an electoral liability rather that the party's biggest asset. Ordinary working people deserve better from a party that they created and have funded since 1900.
14th July 2013
Two new proposals to ease Heathrow congestion will once again divide opinion
Why is a legal loan shark being allowed to dictate government policy?
Unite and Labour show their differences over the selection of a candidate for Falkirk. Will Ed Miliband commit to the principles that the Labour Party was founded on, or does he only want to represent the interests of the establishment?
8th July 2013
IATA reports that the air cargo market is almost static, with just 0.1% growth.
Environmental activists who turned waste land earmarked for a third runway into a smallholding have lost their battle at the Court of Appeal to avoid eviction
Left Foot Forward asks why David Cameron accompanied a delegation of British arms dealers on a vist to Kazakhstan in a plane paid for by its dictator. Amnesty International has highlighted the treatment of human rights protestors in the country and we have to question why Britain is doing business here at all, let alone endorsing the regime by our Prime Minister's acceptance of Nursultan Nazarbayev's hospitality?
3rd July 2013
Indian airline GoAir introduces a remarkable "women cabin crew only" policy, using the argument that women tend to weigh less and that this would allow savings in fuel.
Senior pilots claim that they have been silenced for reporting contamination of cabin air with organophosphates (trycresyl phosphate). A pilot for Ethiad was quoted in the Express as saying that he believed that crashes had resulted from this contamination.
The CAA's own website acknowleges that the risk of contamination from "bleed air" from the engines is real, but no study of the long term risks to flight crew appears to have been carried out. The paper can be found here
One pilot, who thought that he would be protected under whistleblowers legislation says that he was sectioned under the mental health act on the orders of government solicitors, even though this was against medical advice. The pilot says that he was forced to take drugs against his will until a legal challenge was made by solicitors acting for the British Airline Pilots Association.
29th June 2013
Better design is producing quieter aircraft. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has a noise footprint 60% lower than that of similar sized aircraft.
While our government dithers on aviation policy, Heathrow's most dangerous competitor among the hub airports continues to grow. What Britain needs is not austerity, it is investment.
A wartime wreck containing 1,400 tonnes of explosives could make a Thames Estuary airport a dangerous prospect, according to experts. It is government policy to leave wrecks in place because of the high risks of attempting to clear them of ordinance. An accident in 1967 during a salvage operation on another wartime vessel resulted in an explosion that was heard 5,000 miles away. An airport in the estuary could be within 1.5 miles of the wreck and see aircraft flying almost directly over the sunken ship.
29th June 2013
Pilots at British Airways and other airlines may refuse to fly over a relaxation of rules intended to prevent flight crew from being subjected to dangerous levels of fatigue. BALPA has highlighted that pilot fatigue has been cited as a factor in air accidents and near misses in the past and that the rules on cockpit and rest time should be based on scientific principles, not political or commercial convenience.
26th June 2013
Public meetings on the future capacity of Britain's airports will be held on the 9th and 10th of July
An attempt by Luxair management to end collective agreements and impose a pay freeze results in a rally by a thousand protestors in Lumembourg
Air Berlin pilots win an improved pay offer in the face of a cost cutting exercise intended to increase profits
Disabled workers at three Remploy sites are offering to run the factories themselves in an attempt to keep their jobs. The ConDems have consistently targeted vulnerable people first in their austerity drive, under the cover of claims that these cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit.
87% of cargo members and 92% of airside members vote for strike action after Menzies attempts to impose a two year pay freeze
A poll of local residents suggests that two thirds believe that the benefits of Heathrow outweigh disadvantages. Meanwhile, The Sun quotes CEO Colin Matthews as saying that the closure of Heathrow would cause more redundancies than the worst year of pit closures in the 1980s.
Unite and UCATT will be lobbying parliament on Tuesday the 11th of June at 11.00 to protest the weakening of health and safety legislation and the failure to preperly fund HSE inspections and enforcement. An estimated 50,000 British workers still die every year from accidents and occupational disease.
8th June 2013
The CEO of Swissport agrees to the main trade union demands after a strike
A new proposal for a revised 3 runway Heathrow design enters the mix
The UK Board of Airline Representatives has confirmed the view (posted by the HLC last week) that the development of a Thames Estuary airport and the forced closure of Heathrow would result in the premium airlines taking hub operations outside Britain.
The USA's Transport Security Administration backs down on a plan to allow small knives (similar to those used in the 9/11 attacks) to be carried again by passengers. The Flight Attendants Coalition, which represents 90,000 flight crew has carried out a vigorous campaign to prevent the relaxation of security rules.
The TUC responds to an attempt by the government to attack trade unions role in politics as politicians are caught taking money from paid lobbyists. No doubt the Tories will still be able to fund their party from tax dodgers after unions have been restricted from ensuring that a party that they themselves founded remains true to the purpose for which it was created.
The TUC commends HM Revenue and Customs for taking action against employers who flout minimum wage laws. But are £5,000 fines really enough to deter unethical bosses from exploiting vulnerable workers? Perhaps the directors of comapanies that fraudulently deny their employees the wages they are entitled to - should be jailed, as they could be if they had stolen from the taxman or their customers?
31st May 2013
The future of London's airports?
The Independent Transport Commision warns of huge costs if the government decides to back a Thames Estuary airport design instead of Heathrow expansion. The ITC also warns that Heathrow would need to close if "Boris Island" gets the go ahead, risking 170,000 jobs in West London and a massive relocation of labour. The ITC believes that a forced closure of Heathrow is the only way that investors in an estuary airport would have confidence that airlines would relocate.
However, the situation is far from that simple and the ITC must consider that BA could transfer its hub operations to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Frankfurt unless given the pick of a new airport's facilities. Which could mean that an estuary airport was left half empty even if Heathrow did close, or filled with Ryanair and Easyjet flights, which would seriously damage London's status and reduce the profitability of other UK aerodromes.
The poor, the homeless, the sick, the disabled and the elderly look once again to be the targets of this cynical government's ideological drive to benefit the rich. We can also, no doubt expect to see public sector workers hit with demands for job cuts and improved productivity.
3 people are injured in an evacuation from a BA Airbus 319 making an emergency landing at Heathrow.
24th May 2013
The latest edition of the TUC's Health and Safety newsletter
A ballot of Heathrow residents sees less than half bother to vote. Of those who did vote, around 70% do not support expansion, though this is far less hostile than those who live near the site of Boris Johnson's preferred site for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, where 95% are opposed.
Importantly, 62% voted to say that they did not want a new airport (such as Boris Island) to be built if this meant that Heathrow would have to close. Can those who favour Heathrow development do enough to improve air quality and noise to convince local residents that the jobs created by expansion are too vital to lose?
22nd May 2013
An odd, but interesting report from the Daily Mail
The TUC slams goverment policies that have seen workers lose out while the wealthiest get richer
As the Church of Scotland votes to allow actively gay people to become ministers, the UK government is considering an opt out to the legislation that would allow single sex couples to marry for the first time. Why on Earth should public officials be allowed to discriminate when the rest of the country progresses to give equal rights to gay people?
20th May 2013
Conservative MPs in Afghanistan block a law that would have prevented victims of rape from being prosecuted for adultery
The Morning Star reports on Saturday's "Keep the NHS Public" protests
The UN's failure to agree a global deal for aviation emissions could force the EU to go back to its own scheme unilaterally, despite the likelihood that this would lead to a trade war
Heathrow seeks an increase in the number of arrivals between 05.00 and 06.00 as a short term fix for capacity problems while the governemnt dithers over a long term aviation policy for London
18th May 2013
Turkish Airlines claims that a strike by union Hava-Is has little support among its members. The union believes that the strike in support of 305 sacked workers will gain momentum as publicity mounts and time goes on.
16th May 2013
Following opposition to the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, the UN's attempts to produce a global alternative look unlikely to be introduced for several years
Up to 14,000 Turkish Airlines members of the union Hava-Is may strike this week over a refusal to reinstate 305 sacked workers. The International Transport Workers Federation (of which Unite is a member) has been calling on Turkish Airlines to reinstate the workers since last year.
As the death toll in Rana Plaza rises above 1,100 - some British and American retailers are still stalling on signing an agreement that could see major safety improvements in Bangladesh's garment industry. Gap is among the companies that have yet to sign up to the new agreement, claiming that further details need to to be settled.
Around 4 million people work in the garment trade in Bangladesh and there is no doubt that the jobs are important. But the wages, hours and safety standards in these factories are extremely poor. This industry needs to be unionised and subject to regular inspections from health and safety reps and government officials. Wages need to be raised - even if this means that the retail price of clothes goes up by a couple of pence. And working conditions must be improved.
Unionised workplaces are the quickest and most effective way of achieving these improvements.
14th May 2013
The CEO of Qatar Airways seems to think that unions are to blame for the string of recessions that have plagued the global economy for the past five years. So not the banksters who gambled our childrens' futures or the tax dodging multi-nationals that plunges dozens of nations into debt, then?
The need for better health and safety enforcement everywhere is proven by the shocking death toll in Bangladesh. Yet an estimated 50,000 deaths happen every year in the UK from accidents and diseases caused by work, so we should also be demanding more inspections and stronger enforcement in Britain.
As the HOC Transport Committee suggests a three or even four runway Heathrow is the best solution to London's aviation capacity problems, Boris Johnson's aviation advisor recommends ignoring the 170,000 jobs that Heathrow provides and closing it completely
11th May 2013
The House of Commons Transport Committees condemns plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary and calls for a third runway at Heathrow
10th May 2013
The government's cynical attacks on the unemployed, disabled and elderly are exposed as its own figures reveal that 99.3% of all claims are genuine
Qatar expresses an interest in buying 12% of IAG
95% of North Kent residents who returned a survey are opposed to a Thames Estuary airport
Industrial action by German union Verdi results in an improved pay offer
As global carbon dioxide levels pass the 400 parts per million mark, environmentalists warn that we should expect significant climate change in the coming decades
IATA says that a Heathrow price cap of 1.3% below inflation is not enough to make London's main business airport compatitive with its European rivals. However, the body that lobbies on behalf of airlines barely notes that the main reason for UK air travel being expensive is the extortionate level of Air Passenger Duty imposed by the government.
The CAA announces its charge structure for UK airports for the next 5 years and a change to the way that British aviation is regulated. Heathrow's charges will be capped at 1.3% below inflation, while other airports will be given greater flexibility over what they charge their passengers.
The CAA's decision is seen by some as an attempt to encourage investment at airports other than Heathrow and spread the burden of passenger congestion between the South-East airports serving London (in the absence of any additional capacity becoming available in the near future). An alternative interpretation might be that the CAA has completely caved in to the demands of the powerful airline lobby, which includes Willie Walsh's IAG.
Heathrow's owner has reacted angrily to the new caps on landing fees, pointing to the £11 billion that has been invested in the airport over the past 10 years, for which its investors might reasonably have expected a fair return.
30th April 2013
The Bangladesh government says that there is little hope of finding more survivors in the wreckage of a garment factory where up to a thousand workers are feared to have died. The disaster is a shocking example of mangement failures to implement safety advice - and a warning to other countries about the dangers of putting profits before people's lives.
The European Transport Workers Federation says that further deregulation of aviation without protections for jobs and working conditions will lead to a race to the bottom and compromise passenger safety
Turkish Airlines faces a costly strike over its refusal to discuss the reinstatement of 305 sacked workers
The tragedy in Bangladesh where over 300 workers died because health and safety was ignored highlights the importance of proper inspections and enforcement. People's lives are more important than profit, yet an estimated 50,000 people die in the UK alone every year because of occupational disease and accidents.
Tomorrow (Sunday, April 28th) is International Workers Memorial Day. The union movement calls on workers everywhere to remember those who have died because of work and fight to prevent avoidable deaths in the future. We also call on UK companies that buy goods manufactured in Asian sweatshops to take responsibility for the factories that make their stock. These factories should be safe, their conditions should be humane and they should not employ child labour. We call on the public to boycott companies that do not abide by these basic requirements.
27th April 2013