Striking Luton airport workers who assist disabled passengers were joined on the picket line yesterday (July 17) by Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people Marsha de Cordova.
Cordova, who is registered blind, went to support Unite members who began 48 hours of strike action on Tuesday against their employer Clece Care Services over exploitative working conditions.
The vast majority of staff helping passengers are employed on zero hour contracts and paid minimum wage, meaning they are on some of the worst terms and conditions in the UK.
Clece Care Services 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.
Last year the company raked in €76m, while Luton airport announced profits of £39.7m and carried almost 16 million passengers.
Cordova (pictured below), who is the MP for Battersea, said, “(I was) proud to join workers at Luton Airport this morning, who are striking against poverty pay and zero hour contracts.
“By fighting for their rights, they are fighting for the rights of all working people. Solidarity!”
Unite regional officer Jeff Hodge said Clece can afford to pay the real living wage and provide permanent contracts, as workers are demanding.
He said, “The blame for this dispute lies squarely with Clece Care Services and Luton Airport. Clece is a giant service provider – it can afford to lift these workers out of poverty pay.
“The workforce takes great pride in providing services to disabled passengers, despite being on a toxic combination of zero hours and the minimum wage. They are in a ‘David & Goliath’ battle, taking a brave stand against exploitation.”
Last week, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rated Luton airport “good” for the services provided for disabled passengers.
However, Unite said the report failed to take into consideration the welfare of workers who are responsible for ensuring the services are delivered to a high standard.
Hodge added, “The workers’ demands are reasonable, particularly in the light of the CAA report, which highlights just how important their jobs are. Clece and Luton should agree to treat these workers with dignity and pay them fairly.”