Next time you struggle to lift your suitcase on to the bathroom scales, spare a thought for airport baggage handlers.
According to the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), luggage handlers are more likely to suffer injury as the use of mechanical aids and lifting positions is not always possible in cramped conditions such as aircraft holds.
To get this message across, ETF has launched a joint campaign with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) directly targeting passengers and calling on governments and airlines to impose new “realistic” weight limits.
Should the campaign be successful, passengers could one day find themselves limited to 15kg of luggage, easing the strain on baggage handlers, check-in staff and cabin crew.
The ‘Stop Injuries! Pack less’ campaign will also attempt to raise public awareness of airport working conditions with 100,000 leaflets distributed across 35 airports throughout Europe.
The leaflet (pictured below) claims that handlers often have to load luggage “while working on their knees” due to cramped working conditions.
According to the ITF and ETF, airline luggage is exempt from health and safety regulations which would normally protect the wellbeing of both airport workers and cabin crew.
“Every day hugely heavy loads that would be rejected in just about any other workplace are being handled by check-in staff and baggage handlers,” said Enrique Carmona, president of the ETF’s ground staff committee.
“The result is too often injuries that can last a lifetime. That’s why we are asking travellers to think of the people who help them on their way.”
The two federations are campaigning for a maximum weight limit of 23kg with immediate effect, followed by a phased reduction to 15kg. Hand luggage would also be limited to 6kg per bag.
ETF and ITF said lighter bags would avoid excess baggage fees, improve safety for airport workers and help the environment with lighter aircraft equaling lower fuel consumption.
For more information visit packless.org, etf-europe.org, itfglobal.org.
Report by Andrew Gough