August 2011

Next HLC meeting is between 10 and 2, 6th of September 2011 at the Unite office, Bath Rd

Any Unite members with a Heathrow connection and prepared to get involved in our mutual support network are welcome to attend. Please email our sectretary at for more details.

TUC plans mass anti-cuts rally at Tory conference

The march will start at 12 noon on October the 2nd in Liverpool Road, Manchester. More details to follow.

Government backs down on removing funding for 75% of ESOL students on benefits

Being able to speak English to an acceptable standard is essential to get all but the worst paid jobs. So having an education system that allows immigrants and refugees to learn English is vital to stop the UK ending up with its own class of "untouchables" who are rooted in poverty and with little hope of escaping from unemployment or work that is run by gang masters. However, this extension of funding is only for one year, so we need to keep up the pressure on the ConDems to make sure that EVERYONE has fair access to education.

30th August 2011

New York Airports Reopen, Limited Service

Thousands of UK holidaymakers stranded in US after Hurricane Irene

It's business as usual for merchants of death

The protests and brutal government clampdowns in the Middle East and North Africa have seen a surge in arms sales. But why is our government simulaneously condemning repressive regimes at the same time as allowing arms to be sold to those same people to assist them to kill and torture those who demand democracy?

30th August 2011

Number of long term unemployed has doubled to 400,000 since recession

Heathrow seeks contractor for Terminal 4 Departure Lounge refurbishment

Air Passenger Duty could increase because less people are flying

In keeping with the ConDem's strategy of attacking the deficit, but completely ignoring the impact of their actions on jobs and growth - it seems as though the government is thinking about increasing APD to raise more money for the treasury. In an industry depressed by high fuel prices, government restrictions on expansion and passengers with less money to spend - this could well mean that some airlines on the margins are unable to attract enough customers to break even on some flights. Another poke in the eye for the travel sector.

27th August 2011

US Airlines Brace For East Coast Shutdown

HAZARDS and IOSH respond to Chris Grayling's misleading claims about H&S law

Accused "Underwear Bomber" Wants To Be Judged By Koran

How the new "rights for agency workers" (from October) will work

Don't let Cameron treat the NHS as a cash cow for his private sector friends. Save the NHS

London airports will be at breaking point by 2030

This study may be optimistic and with Heathrow sometimes running at 99% capacity, it would be fair to say that we may struggle to get through the summer, let alone with the Olympics next year. The past 4 months have all seen record passenger figures.

Yet none of the candidates for London Mayor is prepared to support palans for a 3rd runway. Which leaves the question which airport is going to handle the extra traffic. It would be rash to assume that it will be another London airport. Now that BA has merged with Iberia, it would be a fairly simple task to slap a codeshare on an Iberia aircraft and use Madrid or Barcelona for hub operations. Other traffic may head for Schiphol, Paris, Frankfurt or one of the middle eastern airports such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Unless our politicians get to grips with this capacity issue, tens of thousands of British jobs may be at stake and tens of billions of pounds worth of business may pass through foreign airports, taking away money that is desperately needed to invest in the UK economy.

(Let's not forget that Oliver Letwin's response to a Labour request that he support investment in UK airports was "We don't want more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays). source

26th August 2011

RBS shamed by link with arms firms

CAA invites consultation on new rules for Airside Driving

I think that some HLC members will have strong views on this one. We will be looking for volunteers to put together a submission to the CAA at the next HLC.

26th August 2011

Confessions of a failed rioter

Philippine Airlines tells 2,600 workers they are to be outsourced to pay for new fleet

Government plan to "hit" tax dodgers will actually help tax dodgers avoid paying up

How taxing Britons £5 billion for their savings in Swiss banks will mean that the other £155 billion they owe can't be touched. Interesting story.

25th August 2011

BA pensioners' landslide vote to retain RPI

Nick Clegg: "I will refuse to let human rights laws be weakened"

Very good, Nick. Human rights are the foundation of a civilised society. But you promised to abolish tuition fees, then voted to triple them. So why should we start believing you now?

PS - We think you showed yourself as a true blue long before the paint hit you.

25th August 2011

In poor countries 100,000 people die every year due to asbestos - Why won't the UN ban it?

Equality watchdog to back BA worker's European court battle to be allowed to wear cross

Unions plan NHS-wide strike over pensions

Doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital administrators and cleaners seem to have finally had enough of being taken for granted by a government that will not listen. Even people who have spent thei lives caring for others may make a stand when mcuh of their pensions are stolen from them to pay for bankers' bonuses and tax cuts for the rich.

25th August 2011

With the cuts to legal aid it's even more important to be in a union to get legal support. 

Australian Government Would Oppose Qantas Bid

In recent weeks there has been rising speculation that Qantas may be the target of bids from other airlines as it struggles to recover from the recent economic downturn. IAG, the airline formed by the merger of BA and Iberia had expressed an interest and Qantas recently agreed a deal with American Airlines for mutual co-operation. As American had also indicated an interest in becoming part of IAG, there had been concern that BA, Iberia, American and Qantas might be headed towards a merger that would give passengers far less choice and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs within the industry..

However, the Australian government has acted to squash these rumours by saying that it would block any bids for its national carrier. For the time being at least, it looks as though Qantas will remain independent.

Australia Approves Qantas-American Tie-Up

24th August 2011 

TUC hits back at claims that health and safety law defies common sense

Chris Grayling hits out at the "endemic of excuses"

We need more health and safety, not less - and we need better enforcement. Thousands of people die every year from work related accidents and diseases and million suffer avoidable injuries, some of which blight them for life.

But most of these injuries are to poor people in manual jobs. If rich people suffered this number of accidents, I bet that the HSE would get funding quickly enough. (Ed)

24th August 2011

Unite opposes major construction firms 'cynical attack' on worker's terms and conditions

Most of these companies are past or present contractors at Heathrow and should SPIE Matthew Hall/EIWHS, NG Bailey, MJ Colston, Shepherd Engineering Service, Graffe, Crown House Technologies and Tommy Clarke succeed in avoiding their agreeements with Unite, pay, conditions and even safety at the airport may well fall significantly.

Electricians protest against 35 percent pay cut

24th August 2011

BA hopes to repair brand damage with advertising campaign

NHS waiting times get longer as private patients jump to the front of the queue

British Company's Move To Bring Airships Back Into Service After 70 Years

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities invites local women to coffee morning

Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities sent the HLC an invite today for local women to meet with her at a coffee morning between 10.00 and 12.00 on Saturday the 3rd of September. The location will be the 1st floor of 52 High Street in Chalvey, Slough SL1 2SQ.

Fiona has been one of the most outspoken MPs on how the government's cuts have affected women and would like to hear about issues that concern female airport workers. Fiona was also one of the supporters of the "Pack Less" campaign, which we are still fighting, despite this government's appalling lack of interest in health and safety.

Please click the link above if you are interested in attending.

24th August 2011 

SkyTeam Aligns Extra Baggage Allowance for Elite Members

Skyteam have come to an agreement whereby the extra baggage allowance for business and first class and loyalty card holders will be made standard across all its member airlines. This will not affect the basic allowance, which can vary between airlines. However, it remains to be seen how this scheme will be implemented and whether individual bag weights will continue to be well above safe levels for handlers to manage.

Baggage handlers are on record as suffering the highest number of back and muscular/skeletal injuries in any industry - five times the national average. This is unacceptable in any civilised society. The HLC will continue to campaign for a legally binding maximum on bag weights that does not expose handlers to excessive risks.

24th August 2011

BA and Virgin cabin crew pay takes a nosedive according to new CAA figures

We do the work, someone else takes the wealth! - Economics made simple

US passenger alleged to have threatened to stab staff on BA flight

What have the unions and the progressives ever done for us?

Ferrovial among companies "interested" in bidding for Madrid and Barcelona airports

Disability assessment company uses legal muscle to silence its critics


Atos Origin vs the internet – stop Atos censoring the web!

BA to cut back on Australia flights as part of deal with Qantas

Ryan Air boss Michael O'Leary blame taxes, poor, gays & unions for financial crisis

(But not bankers or business bosses - Irish Independent on Sunday interview)

Report and video - Cancer deaths from asbestos at all-time high

Asbestos is still the main cause of work related deaths. Other lung diseases are often recorded as the offical reason for death, but over 2,000 death certificates a year record asbestos as the cause, though the real figure is much higher. It was used as a common building material from the 1950s until 1999 when it was finally banned. But asbestos can still be found in hundreds of thousands of buildings and construction workers and engineers can still be exposed to it in plant rooms, roofing, walls, partitions and lift wells among other places.

The cancers and other diseases caused by asbestos can take decades to be diagnosed. So we may continue to see deaths from asbestos until the late 21st century - and perhaps even beyond if workers are exposed to fibres from buildings from this period. But employers have known about the risks for decades and should have provided specialist training and equipment for dealing with this material. So it is vital that we have a strong and well resourced Health and Safety Executive to deter poor safety practices and enforce justice for the victims.

HSE statistics for work related deaths

21st August 2011

New Boeing 747-8 cargo plane meets approval of US and European safety inspectors

Morning Star - Riots WERE about inequality - and so was the way rioters were treated after

Yes, the riots were part of a class war. And the way that the government and the right wing media reacted after the event proves it. The "haves" fear the masses of "have nots". So they must beat them down and fill them with fear. But most of all they must make the rest of the public fear those whose anger was unleashed, just in case they stand together and demand justice and an end to the wealth gap.

21st August 2011

Richmond Council calls for Heathrow to ban all night flights

Video - Council Leader Julian Bell on the Ealing Riot

The leader of Ealing Council, Julian Bell speaking about the recent riots. He condemns the rioters - in particular those whose actions caused the death of Richard Mannigton Bowes, but also calls for an inquiry into the underlying causes and how best to prevent a reoccurrance. He also makes the point that to effectively protect the residents of Ealing against a similar event, the government needs to provide adequate police resources. Another point that he makes is the importance of protecting youth services, despite government cuts to council budgets.

Socialist Workers Party - "Jail the Tories, not young people"

SWP claims judges were "ordered" to send rioters to jail

21st August 2011

Directors in court over horrific death of two workers "cooked alive"

No, Mr. Cameron. Health and Safety law is not just an unnecessary "burden on the employer" and it didn't have anything to do with the riots. It's what stops workers from dying pointless deaths.

20th August 2011

SAS shares up after 2nd quarter pre-tax profits significantly exceed expectations

BA sponsors Pride in Brighton and Hove parade

The HLC is proud to see our national airline sponsoring this important event promoting equality and diversity

19th August 2011

Philippine Airlines plans to lay off 2,600 staff in outsourcing program

Heathrow nursery in Sipson Lane reopens after £60,000 facelift

Boston Airport to trial new security technique using passenger interviews

Canada's air traffic controllers reach negotiated settlement despite government pressure

Like many countries, Canada has suffered due to the global recession and its government attempted to bypass negotiation with the unions. However, the air traffic controllers stood their ground and eventually managed to reach a negotiated settlement. The HLC believes that austerity is no excuse for bypassing the normal mechanisms of industrial relations and that this result demonstrates that negotiation is far better than provoking a dispute.

19th August 2011

Former MP claims Margaret Thatcher blocked inquiry into Locherbie

Chief Inspector of Prisons concerns over treatment of uncharged terrorist "suspects"

UK and US governments accused of being complicit in torture

Video - TWU Australia to ballot Qantas staff over management plan to move jobs abroad

Qantas Engineers To Take Industrial Action

Boeing completes test flights on 787 Dreamliner

3 years behind schedule and $185.2 million dollars without extras, but promising 20% lower fuel usage than equivalent aircraft, the aviation industry eagerly awaits the arrival of this advanced carbon composite plane

19th August 2011

BA says current pilot recruitment drive is aimed at the less well off

New procedures for prosecuting employers over deaths at work

The HLC believes that the existing system is inadequate and that Managing Directors should be held accountable for many work related deaths and in many cases should be subject to prison sentences. We also recognise that the length of time it takes for the HSE to bring a prosecution leaves much to be desired. However, we are concerned that pesenting a prosecution before all the evidence is collected may allow even more companies to escape punishment.

Cameron claims that riots have roots in "obsession with health and safety legislation" 

(What utter bollox - Ed)

18th August 2011

Unite reaction to news of rise in unemployment

38,000 extra people unemployed and unemployment for women the highest since Margaret Thatcher was in office 23 years ago. This government must stop the cuts and start investing in jobs.

Government urgently needs to address labour market deterioration, says TUC

18th August 2011

Video - Cameron call "for 11 year old rioters to go to jail but "don't bash the bankers"'

Competition Commission approves merger of Thomas Cook and CoOp

Are our Political Leaders fit and proper people to set an example to the public?

A selection of articles on high profile politicians who are condemning young people for their day(s) of rage in the recent riots and demanding prison sentences and evictions from council homes.

"Things got out of hand, we'd had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris (Mayor of London) set fire to the toilets" ... David Cameron (Prime Minister) gleefully remembering one (of many) Bullingdon Club 'events' in Oxford in 1986.

Cameron confirms he smoked canabis at Eton

Should David Cameron have gone to prison?

Nick Clegg on the incident when he committed an act of arson on a priceless collection of cacti at the age of 16

How Hazel Blears exploited the parliamentary expenses system to the maximum

NEW - An updated allegation about hacking, George Osbourne and a dominatrix madam

16th August 2011

Unite News Digest

A selection of union and social justice related stories from the papers.

16th August 2011

BAA agrees £10 million sponsorship to promote Heathrow at 2012 Olympics

Economic experts urge government to invest in UK manufacturing industry

Man charged over two murders at Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow

Government warned that hard line treatment of rioters may push them into life of crime

The government has been criticised by a number of advisors for setting an example of rioters with prison sentences and threats to remove benefits. It has been predicted that this stategy may very well backfire and create a bigger problem than it is trying to solve.

Putting first time offenders into prison will expose them to regular offenders and may encourage them to become involved in a wide range of illegal activites. Secondly, the proposal to strip rioters of benefits, even if they are not given prison sentences would leave many without means of support - and it might be predicted that this would leave them with no option but to commit crimes or starve.

The government's plans are a "knee jerk" reaction. They are not well thought out. Neither do they address the underlying causes of the recent public disorder - high unemployment, high cost of living, closing youth centres and frustration caused by a generation that has been pushed to the margins.

16th August 2011

UK airlines owe tens of millions in refunds to customers for Air Passenger Duty

Qantas to shed over 1,000 jobs in massive business restructure

David Cameron's government "More right wing than Margaret Thatcher's"

Heathrow considers using private freight firms for Olympic athletes' baggage

Government scraps plans for compensation fund for victims of asbestos

This government's contempt for the health and safety of workers has hit a new low after plans for a compensation fund for victims of asbestosis and related diseases were effectively scrapped and it was revealed that new research into treatments for these condidtions would not take place. Asbestos is the number one reason for work related deaths and if the government will not tackle the top killer, we can have little expectation that it will make efforts on the other causes of death and serious injury at work.

15th August 2011

Tens of thousands turn out for Brighton Pride festival

Heathrow predicts August 13th 2012 will be airport's busiest day ever

Video - Why climate change deniers should be put in their place

An open letter to David Cameron's parents

We were very impressed with this letter by blogger Nathaniel Tapley. Following David Cameron's rant about the parents of those involved in the riots, it was pointed out that he himself had been involved in acts of vandalism in 1986 when he was at Oxford. Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson are both alleged to have committed acts of arson. Please take the time to have a read.

14th August 2011 

Virgin pilots accept improved pay offer

Liberal Democrats attack hasty riot measures as housing charities condemn eviction threat

The question was asked on BBC Question Time - "Why should those in council housing be punished more than those who are not if they have been involved in the riots?"

The HLC agrees. It is the job of the courts to decide what is an appropriate punishment for committing a crime. It is not the place of local councils to add extra punishments to those that are housed under their care. The fact that these people are in social housing is an indication that people are withing the poorer section of society. Why should the rich have less to fear from committing a crime than the poor?

14th August 2011

Four Virgin staff win claim for unfair dismissal

British Airways uses YouTube to recruit future pilots

YouTube recruiting video

BA to recruit 800 new pilots by 2016

England riots - what the media is saying abroad

This is an interesting article from the BBC. Libya is demanding that the UN ask David Cameron to stand down in response to the "popular uprising" and Iran is accusing the UK's police of being heavy handed. While we may feel that these countries are just getting their own back for Britain's criticism of their policies, there are other more moderate nations who have little good to say about the government's role in recent events.

Cameron to Step Down over “Savage Treatment” of Rioters, say Libya and Iran

ALJAZEERA video report

11th August 2011 

Charities urge restrained approach to dealing with rioters after 11 year olds are identified

Daily Telegraph - "The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as at the bottom

Driverless pods replace buses to Terminal 5 car park

IOSH calls for strong health & safety laws and Directors to be held accountable for injuries

Sadly there are no indications that this is a listening government. Deaths at work continue to take place and those responsible are rarely called to account. We await the day when a managing director is sent to jail for corporate manslaughter. Only then can we hope that that a serious attempt will be made to stop these unnecessary deaths.

11th August 2011

BAA releases July passenger figures - increase from 2010 continues

Prime Minister refuses to change plan for cutting police

The recent riots have done nothing to change David Cameron's mind that austerity and cuts to all public sector services, including the police are the way that the government tackle the deficit. The HLC remains highly sceptical of this strategy and hopes that more innocent members of the public do not end up being the victims of this policy should there be further unrest.

11th August 2011

JAL seeks closer links with BA

Airport security staff may be able to study for level 2 qualification in Aviation Security

Former BA pension trustees re-elected

Two of the three BA pension trustees who resigned in protest at the decision not to retain RPI as the method of calculating inflation for the purposes of adjusting pensions have stood for re-election and been overwhelmingly selected. The third trustee did not restand but is involved in the legal challenge to the change.

This is an important case for all companies that were privatised under Margaret Thatcher's government and that have pension schemes that may be tied to the public sector in some way.

11th August 2011

Virgin Atlantic swings to profit

German air traffic controllers cancel strike after employers agree to mediation at 11th hour

2,500 disabled workers plead with government not to close Remploy

Court case against Boeing for move to non-union plant continues

Former Cathay Pacific executive proposes plan for major London airport in Kent

BA moves Madrid and Barcelona flights to T5 from T3

Boris Johnson fiddles as London burns

While the HLC is in no way condoning the violence, looting and destruction that has taken place during the recent and ongoing riots, we believe that the circumstances that led to thousands of people ignoring the law should not be dismissed simply as criminal acts. When one, or a small number of people break the law, this could be seen as a matter of individual choice. When thousands choose to do so, then it is necessary to look for the underlying causes.

A "jilted generation" with high unemployment, poor job prospects, high cost of living and no champions in government were the main participants in the civil unrest that has taken place since Saturday. The shooting of Mark Duggan and the alleged beating of a young girl by police only served to ignite a situation that has been ignored since the recession began.

Those involved in the rioting are only a tiny proportion of the populations of the areas where the disturbances have taken place. But others in those areas will certainly be suffering because of the austerity measures introduced following the recession. People will go hungry following increases in food prices and VAT. And some will die before their time this winter because they can not afford a nearly 20% rise in fuel prices to heat their homes.

This is a contemptuous and uncaring government that has continually made the poorest and most vulnerable people in society pay for a recession that they did not cause. Meanwhile the richest corportions have had tax cuts, or been allowed to continue avoiding tax. The investment bankers whose greed contributed so heavily to the problems that the world is facing today continue to receive their fat bonuses and the gap between rich and poor is increasing.

The HLC agrees with other unions and progressive economists such as Joe L. Stiglitz that the UK needs to spend its way out of recession. It needs to create jobs - not cut them. It needs to stimulate manufacturing industry. It needs to give consumers the confidence to buy. It needs to invest in skills and education to create the next generation of entrepreneurs - who will in turn create jobs and exports. We need to invest in our health service so that we do not continue to lose millions of days of work to chronic health conditions - many of which are caused by the jobs that people do.

High employment and wealth equality reduce crime. But this government continues to allow the situation to deteriorate. And police resources are stretched to the limit, with further cuts to budgets still planned.

This is a time when the government should be investing in youth. They are this country's future. Failure to invest will cost the UK dearly in the decades to come.

8th August 2011

Chinese and Arab airlines demand EU rethink Emissions Trading Scheme

Government risks reversing popular flexible working rights, warns TUC

BA could have £121 million fine for price fixing doubled after it refuses to pay up

MD of BAA's Edinburgh Airport resigns to become CEO of North Queensland Airports

TUC launches new website to inform workers of their "Rights at Work"

TUC "Basic Rights at Work" website

Boeing 747-8F superfreighter completes first stage of certification

Government "Torture inquiry is a sham" say NGOs

Eight Heathrow baggage handlers win £1.2 million between them

Unite calls for NHS cuts to be reversed

Government plans to reduce costs in the NHS and to privatise services are already showing their flaws as waiting times for treatment get longer and health trusts struggle to meet efficiency targets.

German government seeks injunction in court to stop air traffic controller strike

NUS condemns academic's proposal that poor people sell their body organs to pay bills

Sadly, this appears to be a genuine story. Professor Roff of Dundee University has proposed that the law be changed so that it would be legal for people to sell their body organs. He acknowledges that poor people would be those most likely to be so desperate that they might be forced to sell parts of their body for cash.

This is a frightening proposal, which will hopefully be soundly rejected by the government. However, following some of the truly ruthless things that the ConDems have done to pay for their tax cuts for the rich, anything is possible. Be afraid, very afraid.

BBC report on the story

3rd August 2011 

Tony Parsons seeks out Heathrow's human drama as writer in residence

BMI reports half year losses of £105m

Cameron's big society begins to crumble as cuts impact voluntary sector

Some of the most vulnerable people in our society are again the ones to suffer under the ConDems' regime of cuts. People are literally dying because of failures to provide vital services. Meanwhile David Cameron is on his third holiday this year in a luxury villa in Tuscany.

2nd august 2011

Star Alliance suspends Air India membership application

Funding cuts by local authorities risk women's safety and support

American Airlines boss states that he hopes for full merger with International Airlines Group

Animal rights protestors descended on Heathrow's Terminal 4 today to highlight Air France decision to continue to transport monkeys destined for laboratories where they are used for research. Skyport recently reported that American Airlines had joined British Airways, Virgin, Delta, Qantas and others that had signed up to the BUAV campaign against Cargo Cruelty. BUAV is calling for all airlines to refuse to carry animals for such experiments.

Skyport Airline News Roundup 20th July 2011

BUAV website and list of airlines that continue to carry animals for research

1st August 2011

Up to 3,000 NUJ journalists begin strike against BBC redundancy plan

British Airways still refusing to pay £121 million fine to OFT over fuel price fixing

Let's hope the British government doesn't impound their planes over unpaid bills as Germany did to the Crown Prince of Thailand.

1st August 2011

HSBC makes £7 billion profits then announces 30,000 job losses to "cut costs"

ConDem initiative for growth proves to be a total flop

But there are plenty more crazy plans where that one came from. Check out the list at the bottom.

Willie Walsh admits that IAG wants to merge with TAP to gain control of Brazil market

Mr. Walsh's announcement is not a complete surprise, as the Portugese airline is well established in Brazil, a potentially lucrative market - and Iberia has a substantial presence in the rest of South America. However, while from the shareholders' perspective such a merger (or takeover) makes sense, the HLC would have to ask how many jobs might be lost as a result?

The merger of BA and Iberia has already seen job losses - and fears remain that up to 4,000 positions in aviation engineering could be at stake if IAG decides to have a single main engineering base for its fleet. At this point in time it is not known what the fate of aircraft engineers in Madrid, Heathrow and Barcelona might be. It seems unlikely that the group would keep 4 engineering bases if Lisbon was added to its list of hubs. Ticket sales, ground services, check in and administrative jobs might also be at stake.

It is also known that IAG is particularly interested in an alliance or merger with a major Asian carrier - most likely one based in China so that it can take advantage of increasing trade with the region. This latest announcement will do little to settle the nerves of a workforce that has been subjected to a lengthy period of change and uncertainty.

1st August 2011

CAA publishes first consultation document London Airports pricing for period from 2014

CAA press release and link to full consultation document

762 staff face loss of jobs at London hospital

Labour accuses government of depriving poorer areas of health funding to subsidise suburbs

Judge says H&S is not just "political correctness" as he fines firms £75,000 for accident

IAG returns to profit in first 6 months of 2011 as premium traffic returns