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Issue #1509      13 July 2011

Airline workers push for rights

Unions from 11 countries have joined forces in an international campaign to set standard conditions at Skyteam group firms. The “same team, same rights” initiative is backed by unions affiliated to the International Transport Federation (ITF) and begins as British union Unite meets with the management of Dutch carrier KLM to thrash out decent flight concessions for all employees at ground handler Cobalt, which operates at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho said: “This campaign has grown out of our determination that the multinational nature of the airline alliances must be reflected by equally co-ordinated representation of the rights of the workers in them.

“Recent events at Cobalt have thrown this into stark relief. New workers get no flight concessions, while for others there’s a whole mix of conditions depending on which airline they come from.”

Management adopted a “divide and rule” policy to worsen conditions.

“Company HQ in the Netherlands recently took some workers and put them on inferior terms. Then they decided that everyone who had flight concessions would get less of them,” Mr Mocho said.

Unite had managed to persuade bosses to suspend those decisions and hold talks.

The campaign aims to draw attention to the situation at Skyteam, a major airline alliance of 13 carriers from four continents which is based at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

The ITF says it will draw attention to the social and economic benefits that flight concessions bring to airlines.

The plan follows the decision by unions from 11 countries two weeks ago to form a global organisation to represent workers at Fiat and Chrysler firms around the world and reflects the increasing readiness of unions to organise internationally to tackle exploitation by transnationals.

It should also help to prevent bosses from turning workers at different firms against each other, as was tried by management and media during the BA cabin crew dispute by pointing to inferior conditions among staff at other airlines.

Morning Star  

Next article – Reflections by Comrade Fidel – A brilliant and courageous statement

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