A wave of worldwide industrial action has swept the transport industry in the last few weeks as workers demand better working conditions and wages.
Thousands of flight attendants across three labor unions will picket outside airports in theUnited States, the UK and Guam on Tuesday, to push airlines for new contracts with significant pay increases, the Association of Flight Attendants said.
The protests will include cabin crew members from 24 airlines including Alaska Air, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines, picketing outside 30 airports.
Uber and Lyft drivers protest during a day-long strike outside Uber’s office in Saugus, Massachusetts. REUTERS/Brian Snyder.
No pay rise in five years
In the past two years, unions representing pilots, flight attendants and maintenance workers have advocated for higher wages, better scheduling and other benefits amidst a tight labor market, as airlines cash in on a post-pandemic travel boom.
Unlike flight attendants, pilots across major airlines have secured new labor deals including bumper pay hikes and other benefits.
Some flight attendants have not had a pay raise in five years, the AFA said.
Earlier this month, Canadian leisure carrier Air Transat’s cabin crew members rejected a second labor deal offered to them, while Alaska Air flight attendants will vote on a strike authorization on Tuesday.
From the skies to the roads
Elsewhere, thousands of drivers for ride-sharing platforms Uber, Lyft and food delivery app DoorDash will strike across the United States on Valentine’s Day seeking fair pay, drivers’ groups said.
The strike call is the first since Uber and Lyft went public in 2019. Drivers will picket outside airports and Uber offices, two of the groups said.
The Justice For App Workers coalition, representing about 130,000 drivers and delivery workers, said its drivers would not provide rides to and from airports between 11 am and 1 pm in 10 U.S. cities.
The strikes are set to take place about a week after Lyft said it would pay the difference if drivers made less than 70% of what riders paid after external fees each week.
From the roads to train tracks
In Germany, train drivers conducted a series of strikes since the start of the year as unions press for higher wages and improved working conditions to help workers cope with a cost-of-living crisis.
Germany has seen inflation climb to as high as 8.8% while real wages have dropped for three years in a row since 2020.A five-day strike took place on Jan. 24–Jan. 28, making it one of German train drivers’ longest strikes to date.
Negotiations between the train drivers’ union GDL and Deutsche Bahn are to be held in private over the next three weeks and there are no strikes planned until at least March 3.
A week after the train strikes, ground staff at German airline Lufthansa walked out at major airports on Feb. 7. The workers were represented by the Verdi union which targeted the Frankfurt and Munich airports.
The Verdi union has called for a wage rise of 12.5% for some 25,000 workers, or at least 500 euros ($537.00) more per month over a 12-month-period, plus a one-time payment of 3,000 euros to offset inflation.
Freight train strikes
Over in Western Australia, iron ore train drivers at BHP Group’s Pilbara operations have voted to strike on Friday in a bid to secure an improved employment agreement, the country’s Mining and Energy Union said.
The 24-hour work stoppage could interrupt supply from Western Australia mines to BHP’s export hub at Port Hedland, although the world’s biggest miner said it had back-up measures in place.
Employees rejected an offer made in December. The train drivers have been campaigning for improved conditions in areas like rostering and accommodation for more than two years.
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Senior economist Rachelle Earwaker at UK-based charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shares her thoughts on the cost-of-living crisis:
“As winter sets in, now is a bad time for progress on inflation to stall. Inflation remains at double the Bank of England’s target, and the price of essentials like fuel and food are much higher than they were, with food inflation falling but still running high at 8%.
“Anyone who needs to use their heating to stave off freezing temperatures this week can expect to pay over 80% more than what they did three years ago.
“Price rises have outstripped increases in benefits which won’t increase again until April, and, even then, won’t make up the difference. Around 6.6 million low income households (56%) reported not having enough money for either food or heating their home between May and October 2023. Around 2.4 million households (20%) didn’t have enough money for both food and heating.
“It’s not right that our social security system, which is meant to protect all of us when we fall on hard times, doesn’t give families enough to afford the essentials. All political parties must commit to introducing an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ to Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.”
A vet from Chile’s UoA checks a turtle that was injured during the spread of wildfires, at the country’s National Botanic Garden, in Vina del Mar, Chile. REUTERS/Jorge Vega
Animal conservation and preservation efforts in South and Central America take the focus in today’s spotlight.
After deadly fast-moving wildfires tore through central Chile, killing at least 131 people last week, most of the country’s National Botanic Garden in the coastal city of Vina del Mar was left in ashes.
An employee at the garden was killed, along with three of her family members. Alejandro Peirano, the garden’s director, said two of the garden’s three zones were completely destroyed.
Now, help is pouring in from around the world to help the garden regrow. Peirano said he was in contact with botanic gardens across Europe, with aid coming in from Japan and France, among others.
Baby turtles walk into the sea on Chacocente beach, part of the Wildlife Refuge Rio Escalante – Chachocente, Santa Tereza, Nicaragua. REUTERS/Maynor Valenzuela
Nicaraguan authoritiesand volunteers released hundreds of tiny baby turtles on the country’s Pacific coast over the weekend as part of the government’s efforts to protect endangered species.
At the Rio Escalante Chacocente wildlife reserve, more than 400 baby Paslama turtles scurried over the sand toward the ocean on Sunday afternoon.
The release was part of the government’s campaign to protect endangered turtle populations, “Together We Conserve Our Sea Turtles.”
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