Brussels Nov 5th - HLC & ITF lobby EU parliament against ground handling deregulation
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
The US changes rules that have forced air traffic controllers to take one day's unpaid leave every two weeks as a result of Republican demands for public sector cuts in President Obama's last budget
IAG's CEO seems to hint at further mergers and alliances for the aviation giant, together with more cost cutting exercises that could see thousands more lost jobs or reduced wages
Unite members prepare to ballot for strike action after Menzies demands a two year pay freeze
25th April 2013
The International Transport Workers Federation warns that making air traffic control staff take leave to balance the US budget will not only cause massive delays, but risk the safety of thousands of passengers
The TUC takes Ian Duncan Smith to task after he is caught telling more lies
A protest against an "Open Skies" deal that would see more foreign airlines get access to Israel in return for greater access to Europe results in a suspension of El Al flights
A plan to let small knives be carried on US flights is delayed after complaints from representatives of 90,000 flight crew
All but 20 of Lufthansa's 1,700 flights for today ( Monday 22nd April) have been cancelled
Boris Johnson calls for even tougher anti-union laws. He calls for a ban on strikes without at least a 50% membership vote in favour - yet seems to have no problem with his party ruling Britain despite only 23% of the electorate having voted for them
A man who was not invited for an interview with Virgin when he applied under his African name, but was accepted when he applied under a Welsh nam has had his claim for racial discrimination rejected by a tribunal. The tribunal accepted Virgin's defence that the difference in the treatment of the two applications was not due to race, but to other differences in the CVs.
Industrial relations at IAG subsidiary Iberia look to be becoming even more complex. A recommendation from a mediator that pilots and cabin crew take a 14% pay cut while ground staff lose 7% of their salary appeared not to be enough for the airline - which demanded an additional 4% pay cut for each group (18% and 11%).
It is now being reported that Iberia will withdraw its demands for the additional 4% pay cut if unions agree to further improvements in productivity.
21st April 2013
UKBA's record on dealing with asylum seekers is criticised by Amnesty International.
Now that Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are under different owners, the CAA looks likely to change the way that it regulates London's airports.
A group of Tories demand that strikes are made illegal on the underground. Workers in aviation and other industries should be very wary of this move, as other countries that have pursued similar legislation have typically attempted to ban industrial action across the whole transport sector.
16th April 2013
The TUC and many other groups condemn a government decision to strip the Equality and Human Rights Commission of its general duty to promote equality. The EHRC is also facing massive budget cuts at a time that inequalities in society are increasing and hate crime is on the rise (for which the right-wing press must take a large share of the blame).
The government ignores unions, employers and the House of Lords as it presses forwards with plans to encourage workers to give up basic employment rights in return for company shares
A man who says Virgin rejected his application to work at a call centre until he changed the name on his C.V. has his claim heard in Swansea. Virgin says that the change from an African name to a Welsh one was not the reason that his revised application was treated differently
The London Assembly asks the Department for Transport to either completely ban night flights at Heathrow, or to bring in and strictly enforce a curfew on the hours that flights can take off and land
13th April 2013
Kingfisher applies to have its licence to operate reinstated. But is this plan realisitic, with around $1.4 billion owed to various parties and key slots allocated to other airlines?
Cartoon from today's The Independent
Labour politician Glenda Jackson gives a stirring speech on the evils of Thatcherism while the rest of the House of Commons seems intent on elevating the former Prime Minister to sainthood. This short video is well worth watching to remind us what the "Iron Lady" was really like and the legacy she has left behind
Airlines at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit say that an immediate abolition of air passenger taxes would be one of the quickest and most effective ways to reboot world economic growth
IAG moves closer to taking over low cost Spanish airline Vueling. Will this result in more job losses and wage cuts in the Spanish aviation industry? There is no love lost between the Spanish workers and Willie Walsh, so this decision may not be well received.
As the right wing press tries to rewrite history to portray Margaret Thatcher as a saint, thousands of others tell of how she tore communities apart, destroyed countless jobs in mining, manufacturing and the public sector and threw families into poverty. She was also a supporter of some of the worst dictatorships in the world, refused to join in sanctions against apartheid and sold arms to some of the most brutally repressive regimes.
She stole trade union rights. She sold off council houses while preventing councils from using the money to build replacements - leading to massive increases in the cost of living as landlords raised rents to record levels. She sold off many of the nationalised industries, leading to higher costs to the taxpayer so that shareholders continued to get their dividends.
Under Thatcher we saw unemployment soar and inflation go through the roof. Scotland's desire for independence was boosted by her choice to impose the hated poll tax there first.
Thatcher was a champion of the 1% and an enemy of the 99%. She stood for everything that socialists despise and have fought against for 200 years. Her legacy lives on in the current Tory Party (and to some extent in New Labour). So please don't ask the trade unions to forget the damage that she did to society. She showed no respect to the majority of human beings in her life and we have no reason to show her any special respect in her death.
Was Thatcher a 'Champion of Freedom and Democracy'? Don't be silly
7th April 2013
Scientists warn that one of the effects of climate change over the coming decades is likely to be higher and less predictable winds, which could lead to more turbulence for passengers and higher fuel costs for airlines.
The Chancellor's flawed economic strategy is even attracting criticism from the US government
The government's lie about us being "all in this together" is exposed as high earners get a 5% tax break, while benefits are cut, capped or limited to a sub-inflation 1% and social housing tenants are hit with the bedroom tax.
A planned strike by PCS at the UK Border Agency is called off after a legal challenge by the government. However, the government's decision to use the courts rather than negotiation to prevent the strike is seen as provocative by the union and the dispute seems likely to escalate.
4th April 2013
Anti-noise campaigners claim success after a decision is made not to extend a trial on night flights
The first UN global treaty on (non-nuclear) arms is finally signed. It is hoped that the treaty will prevent, or at least reduce the number of conventional weapons sold to repressive regimes. While the treaty is a major achievement, many people believe that countries with large arms industries (such as the UK) will continue to export weapons to nations with poor records on human rights.
PCS announce a 24 hour strike on the 8th of April in response to government attacks on wages, pensions and conditions
A new airport in Qatar, that could become a serious competitor to Heathrow and European hubs has its opening delayed (again) due to safety concerns. This should not give too much comfort to UK businesses, as continued failure to develop a long term aviation strategy will ultimately lead to trading opportunities being lost and billions in new business heading elsewhere.
3rd April 2013
200,000 people sign a petition for IDS to prove his claim
Will more airlines start charging passengers according to their weight?
Businesses, trade groups and EU officials claim that austerity measures are damaging growth and making it difficult to maintain Europe's competitive position in the global economy
Following the failure of the government's program to improve productivity by a restructure and a cut to the department's budget, Theresa May responds with another restructure and a further 10% cut in funding. Why does the HLC think that this will only lead to longer queues and an even bigger backlog of cases waiting to be processed?
28th March 2013
The House of Lords fails to block a government plan for secret courts, where defendents may be denied the right to see and challenge the evidence against them. A sad day for British Justice. How long before these courts are not merely used for terrorists, but for protestors, social campaigners and trade unionists?
The latest stories on capacity and congestion at Heathow
Lufthansa and its unions look likely to do battle once again as the airline plans further cost cuts and employees fight to protect their pay and conditions.
27th March 2013
Babcock further increases its business at Heathrow after being awarded contracts for maintenance of baggage handling systems and British Airways ground support vehicles
The TUC calls upon the House of Lords to block the government's Crime and Courts Bill, which would make it illegal for another 3,000 public sector workers to take part in strikes or other industrial action.
Labour faces the backlash of a highly questionable decision not to oppose the government's attempt to make itself immune from the consequences of breaking the law over using benefit sanctions to force unemployed people to work for free
Sounds like it could soon be the end of my flying days...
Unite are hosting an event this Thursday (28th March) to make the public aware of how this government is marginalising the most vulnerable people in society as part of its plan to divide and rule and to distract us from blaming those people who really caused the recession - Cameron's millionaire friends and his party's donors
The ITF and Turkish union Hava-Is are making a complaint to the International Labour Organisation that Turkey broke its own laws by making strikes in the aviation sector illegal. As a signatory to the ILO, Turkey is bound to recognise a number of worker rights and freedoms and cannot simply dissolve them for political convenience.
Democracy only works if you bother to vote.
Return your ballots for General Secretary
On the 21st and 22nd of March, trade unionists from across Europe travelled to Denmark for a conference on Air Pollution in Airports. Nine delagates from Unite attended from Heathrow, Gatwick and East Midlands Airport, including a nymber of HLC members.
The central topic of the conference was a type of air contaminant called "ultrafine particles". These are extremely small particles that are not (yet) covered by safety legislation, but have been linked to strokes, heart disease, cancers and lung disease. The aim of the conference was to engage unions from across the EU to collect data at their local airports that can be used to present a case for stricter controls of UFPs and create a template for best practice at airports to reduce emissions.
Studies so far have suggested that the workers exposed to the highest risk of occupational disease from UFPs are baggage handlers followed by caterers and plane clears. Airport security workers, especially those who work externally are also believed to be at risk.
The attendees agreed that it is not realistic to hope for an early solution to the problem. We will have to carry out tests in dozens of airports across Europe. We will have to lobby MEPs to support an amendment to safety legislation to cover smaller particles. We will have to work with employers to change working practices and reduce the amount of engine use in the vicinity of the worlkplace. This could take 5-10 years before we can hope to achieve a comprehensive change that would substaially reduce the risk to our unions' members in aviation.
23rd March 2013
The Morning Star warns that the government is planning more attacks on worker health and safety protections inder the cover of its "Red Tape Challenge"
The International Transport Workers' Federation launches a petition to reopen the investigation into a fatal crash involving a Cypriot plane in 2005. The ITF calls for the investigators to recognise that the accident should not be blamed on a single individual, but on the process of liberalisation, which has lead to corners being cut and risks being taken in a brutally competitive market.
The House of Lords throws out a government plan to allow employers to "buy" their workers basic employment rights in return for a few shares in the company.
Dare we suggest that high passenger taxes, high unemployment and below inflation wage growth (or pay freezes) might have somethng to do with this?
The International Transport Workers' Federations warns of aviation employers demanding that their workers accept the weaker set of rights, where an airline is based in a different country from its employees
Iberia's unions appear ready to recommend a mediator's proposals to their members
As the Chancellor gets ready to present a budget that is expected to ignore many financial experts, impose even more austerity and provide yet further hurdles to growth, the TUC calls on the government to change its direction and stop Britain from entering a race to the bottom.
13th March 2013
A warning for all reps about the coming changes to employment rights. Be afraid. Very afraid.
An internal memo at Virgin leaves staff in fear of their futures
IAG's board has backed a mediator's recommendation for a revised package of cuts at Iberia. Unions have yet to sign off on the proposals, though significant progress has been made to limit the pay cuts of Willie Walsh's original plan.
Pilots and flight crew would have to agree to pay cuts of 14% while ground staff would see salaries reduced by 7% (as opposed to an original proposal for wages cuts of up to 35%). However, over 3,100 jobs would still be lost and with Spain's current unemployment situation, it is unclear how union members will ballot on the proposals.
|ETF Press release Nov 5th|