European airport workers demand job security
(STRASBOURG) - Hundreds of airport workers on Thursday demonstrated outside the European Parliament to demand greater rights and job security.
Around 500 employees from France, Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, Britain, Italy and Belgium took part to ask lawmakers to amend a bill -- due to be debated in December -- that would further liberalise the sector.
According to François Ballestero, from the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), the airport services sector employs 150,000 people across Europe in a range of activities including baggage handling and catering.
But fierce competition for contracts means insecurity for workers.
"These services are not managed by the companies that manage the airports but tendered out to subcontractors," said Ballestero.
"Often contracts are very short, a year for example, and when at the end of that year a company comes and undercuts the previous one to take over the contract, the employees concerned may not be rehired by the new firm."
Longer contracts would provide greater security, according to the French transport union CFDT.
"Contracts should last at least five years to ensure some kind of stability for workers and employees must keep their social rights when they change employer," said union representative Thibaut Lavigne.
Competition in the industry also means that companies often try to save money on training costs, bringing down the quality of services, said Ballestero.
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