When you fly, how much thought do you put into your luggage? The logistics of every single bag making it from point A to B to C, without missing flights or getting lost, are staggering. Sure, baggage handlers get the blame when your stuff is lost or damaged, but do they get the credit when it all arrives intact and on time? More importantly, do they get their fair pay?
Not according to them, they don’t. So, for the next three days, 350 baggage handlers at Heathrow Airport in London are striking for pay rates that better keep up with inflation. The strike covers three full terminals, so watch out if you’re flying American Airlines, Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Air Portugal, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus, Finnair, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, or Qantas.
The strike began early this morning, and will last through the weekend. Rather than striking against the airport directly, baggage handlers are going up against Menzies — a third-party operator, supplying Heathrow with labor. Two other labor suppliers at the airport, Dnata and Menzies Cargo, recently came to pay agreements with their respective workers in order to avert collective action before the World Cup weekend.
The strike comes at the tail of a long, rough year for Heathrow. The airport has been so plagued by issues that it asked airlines to stop selling tickets just a few months ago. Thanks to poor management early in the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been inundated with lost international luggage — and now the very people handling that luggage will be joining a picket line instead.
Air travel is no stranger to harsh working conditions, long hours, and low wages. Maybe, if Menzies acquiesces to its workers’ demands for more equitable pay, it’ll actually be able to hire more folks. I wonder what that would do for all that lost luggage.