New ITF booklet to inspire airport organisers

Any union official or activist involved in airport organising can find inspiring new ideas in the ITF’s new booklet, based on a project in South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport (ORT).

‘Investigating the workplace’ aims to stimulate discussion and provides a powerful, rank-and-file based and challenging approach to airport organising. Based on a participatory action research (PAR) approach, it emphasises the vital importance of workers’ participation in investigating the workplace and their conditions, as the basis for building democratic worker organisation and unity.

As the title of the booklet suggests, the project investigated the workplace at ORT, but didn’t limit itself just to research tasks. The investigations were above all organisational activities that helped to build the union. In other words, the project linked training, research and organisational activity in the process of investigating the workplace.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho commented: “This case-study is inspiring. It shows how we can develop workplace strategies to support the organisation of precarious airport workers, and build unity between different sectors within an airport to confront a common client. The material is full of useful lessons and practical tips for unions in other countries.”

With some adaptations, ‘Investigating the workplace’ can also be used in trade union education as an organising tool for other aviation workers (such as cabin crew, air traffic personnel, technicians and mechanics), as well as other transport workers. Presented in an easily comprehensible format, it is only available in English.

The ORT project was conducted by Naledi (a labour research organisation), the IHRG (an organisation supporting workers’ health and safety) and ITF affiliate SATAWU (South African Transport and Allied Workers Union) between mid-2011 and early 2014.

Download the booklet or request a hard copy by emailing

Keep up with the latest news on the ITF aviation blog.

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