Participants were informed that the ITF had established a new air quality working group, which met for the first time on 27 February. They agreed that there was heightened public and industry interest following the recommendation by a UK coroner that action was needed to prevent deaths after warning that toxic fumes in cabin air posed a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew.
A lively discussion was sparked by the AFA-CWA (Association of Flight Attendants-CWA) describing the tactics it said the industry used to rig the system. Delegates said that regulators globally needed to make the industry improve, for example by implementing more rigorous preventive maintenance, using less toxic oil and educating airline workers to recognise and respond to toxic fumes.
The ITF also announced that it would hold an aviation FOCs conference at the end of June to develop strategies to deal with the increased attempts by employers to reduce aviation workers to a low-wage, casualised workforce, which civil aviation assistant secretary Kemal Ulker said threatened to destroy all past hard-won gains.
Participants heard that the ITF delegation at the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) cabin safety committee had been given assurances that the federation would be included in all future discussions of aviation deregulation and liberalisation. Vegard Einan, vice-president of ITF-affiliated Parat in Norway, reported on his union’s fight against the FOC practices used by the Norwegian Air Shuttle, while ETF civil aviation secretary Francois Ballestero focused on social dumping practices in Europe.
ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho said: “Participants seized this opportunity to share intelligence about the latest developments in aviation that affect cabin crew and to support our efforts to step up our work with affiliates and other industry players to promote safety and protect jobs.”
Delegates agreed that the ITF would develop a strategic campaign against basic human and workers’ rights violations at Qatar Airways and would continue to mobilise international support for the Delta organising campaign in the United States run by the ITF-affiliated IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers).
Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA president, was elected vice chair of the cabin crew committee.