Ground Handling Campaign

ETF campaign for better EU regulation and fair rules on transfer of staff

Ground handling services in Europe are regulated by various EU laws, including the EU’s Ground Handling Directive 96/67 EC which the European Commission has been trying to revise since 2002. Changes in EU rules have often led to a reduction in social rights or to a great number of redundancies and dismissals. That makes the defence of ground handling workers a key focus of our political campaigning.Ground handling services in airports can be provided by ground handling companies or by airlines themselves (so called self-handling). Both are covered by EU regulations. The ETF believes that the EU needs rules which supports high levels of quality employment and offer workers as much stability as possible. We also call for high minimum standards to drive a homogenization of working conditions in the sector.

Our vision for a more social ground handing sector:

Job stability and social protection: Fair European legislation on transfer of staff for all ground handling workers would allow them to keep their jobs, wages and working conditions. Competition based on reduction in labour costs and employees’ terms and conditions must stop!

No more deregulation: Liberalisation and deregulation has brought undesirable consequences for ground handling workers. The EU does not need more ground handling operators in the airports, since the contestable market is limited. Any increase in the number of handlers would be a decision made on ideological grounds purely to promote competition despite its consequences for employment conditions.

No tendering process for airports: The European Commission should not force airports to be involved in a call for tender process for airport services. The ETF believes that the member states should be allowed to take an independent decision, based on their own national procedures.

Collective bargaining agreements for ground handling service providers: The requirement to apply existing Collective Bargaining Agreements or implementing a new one must be one of the binding criteria in the selection process to grant licenses to handlers. End social dumping practices!

Improved safety: A revised Ground Handling Directive must guarantee adequate safety levels. High turnover and subcontracting of staff puts safety standards at risk. EU regulations on safety which already apply to airlines have to be extended and adapted to handling services.

Guarantee for service quality: Service quality must become an objective. A revised Directive must define quality standards, which should take into account the specific infrastructure and capacity characteristics of airports.

The ETF has fought, fights and will fight at all levels to achieve a minimum set of pan-European rules for decent work in ground handling. Our actions to achieve this include mobilisation campaigns, political lobbying and research into the reality of the European ground handling market and the jobs it creates.

In Focus