Airport Workers Protest Around the Globe for Fair Wages & Union Rights

Tuesday 2 October 2018

In airport demonstrations all around the globe, thousands of workers and their supporters are putting airlines on notice as they call for fair wages, union rights, and safe workplaces.

Coming just days after Ryanair cabin crews in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain organised the most widespread strike the airline has seen, today’s protests began in Sydney, Australia and will continue across the globe through France—where strikes have been announced at all airports—then to São Paulo and the Western coast of the U.S., where workers at the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland airports will march and rally for fair pay, health care, and other benefits.

With the support of UNI Global Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, airport workers are taking action at airports that control a whopping 36% of world air travel, where nearly 4 million people pass through each day. This includes most of United Airlines’ U.S. hubs and some of the world’s largest airports—including LAX in the U.S., Charles De Gaulle in Paris, Schiphol in Amsterdam, Incheon in Seoul, and Flughafen in Frankfurt.

“It doesn’t matter who we are or where we come from. Working people should be able to afford food on the table and a decent place to live,” says Behrad Ghofrani, an HR dispatcher at the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. “The profit that companies make is generated through the work of thousands of employees like me, so at least we should get a small share of the billions. It’s time to connect all over the planet and rise against the airlines. It’s time for Lufthansa, United Airlines and all the other big players to take responsibility and make sure that workers don’t struggle from paycheck to paycheck.”

Baggage handlers, security officers, cabin cleaners, janitors, wheelchair attendants, and other contracted airport workers provide soaring profits to the global airline industry, which is projected to net $38.4 billion in 2018, while struggling to make ends meet on low wages and often without benefits or paid days off. Airport jobs used to be good union jobs, but the global airline industry is increasingly subcontracting out to irresponsible, low-bid contractors that cut corners on wages, benefits, and safety standards.

“In a world where global airlines and their contractors are rigging the rules to benefit the wealthy few, we must confront these corporations as a united front—all together, around the world,” says Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Contracted airport workers—baggage handlers, janitors, and security officers—make it possible for people to travel all over the world. They are coming together to speak with one voice until they win the respect, wages, and rights they deserve. We know that when workers unite, they win, and these victories reverberate throughout the world.”

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, stated “Airport workers have have seen their working rights trodden upon for too long. Workers coming together in their thousands will be the first step to bargaining collectively and achieving decent working conditions for all airport workers.”

Despite airlines driving a race to the bottom and attempting to divide workers along racial lines, airport workers have won union rights, wage increases, job protections, and other benefits by the tens of thousands by coming together.

Today is an opportunity to demonstrate that strength globally.

Contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United. Visit www.AirportWorkersUnited.org to learn more. Read the new report detailing why conditions must change in the world’s airports here

Contact