Freight handlers strike for better conditions

March 25, 2014

Some 200 freight handlers at Schiphol airport, the Netherlands, went on strike this week over deteriorating working conditions.

Workers at Aviapartner Cargo (APC) are facing longer hours and have little control over their schedule. Workers say they can end up having just one day’s rest per week, between a day and a night shift. Workers have also called for improved conditions for their temporary colleagues, and a 3 per cent pay rise.

Employers APC filed a court case against ITF affiliate FNV Bondgenoten, the union which represents the handlers, to attempt to prevent the strike from taking place. The employer lost the case on Monday 17 March, and the strike started the following evening.

It has been reported that APC management have attempted to break the strike, both handling freight themselves and hiring temporary staff. Workers have also reported being threatened by management, with implications that taking strike action will have unwelcome consequences.

ITF head of civil aviation Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez said: “Freight handling is absolutely central to keeping products moving throughout the world. Workers often work through the night to ensure goods get to their destination. They deserve decent conditions – and at the very least, they should have the right not to be threatened by employers! We have been disturbed to hear reports of intimidation, and urge the company to enter fairly into bargaining. The future development of Schiphol airport depends on it.”

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