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Luton airport workers on zero hours “fight for dignity” says union

Jeff Hodge

Workers responsible for helping disabled passengers at Luton Airport are in a battle with their employer Clece Care services which stands accused of exploiting its own workforce while providing services to people with restricted mobility. Contributor Jeff Hodge, regional officer – Unite.

The workers are due to take 48 hour strike action between Tuesday 17 July 5.00 am to Thursday 19 July 4.59 am. CCS Currently runs the contract for special assistance services at London Luton Airport which supports passengers with restricted mobility. Luton Airport awarded the contract to Clece, so it cannot wash its hands of responsibility for the workers’ treatment.

The vast majority of staff helping passengers are employed on zero hour contracts despite many of them having worked there for years. This precarious employment often sees workers’ shifts cancelled at short notice and makes budgeting from one week to the next near impossible. To make matters worse, most staff are on the minimum wage meaning they are on some of the worst terms and conditions in the UK.

The workforce have already taken strike action as part of their campaign to end zero hours and to receive a pay increase to bring their pay in line with the real living wage.

Clece is a giant service provider which employs 70,000 workers . It has a series of major contracts in Spain but is also expanding into the UK and Portugal. In 2017 the company’s earnings (EBITDA) was 76 million Euros (see notes to editors).

Unite regional officer, Jeff Hodge said: “Clece claims its aim is to benefit society but it is leaving its UK workers impoverished. Its workforce at Luton airport, who are responsible for helping disabled passengers travel safely, are on a toxic combination of zero hours and the minimum wage.

“Luton Airport awarded the contract to Clece, so it cannot wash its hands of responsibility for the workers’ treatment. “The workers’ demands are reasonable, they want an end to zero hours and their pay brought up to the real living wage. They are in a ‘David & Goliath’ battle, taking a brave stand against exploitation. Their action will cause considerable disruption to passenger services at the airport. The blame for this dispute lies squarely with Clece and Luton Airport. They should agree to treat these workers with dignity and pay them fairly.”

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