Airport workers all over the world face work intensification, falling wages, insecure and unsustainable work patterns. That’s why the ITF have launched an airports organising programme that brings together baggage handling, maintenance, check-in, cleaning, security and other workers in each airport into one network – with a mission to improve the industry and secure recognition and decent work for all those who work in it.
Airports United is a group of airport activists and organisers, representing workers in airports all over the world. They are dedicated to building union power in airports in order to fight the forces that have created a race to the bottom, and the deterioration in airport jobs.
On 1 June 2016, Airports United held co-ordinated actions in airports from Sydney to Schiphol, Stockholm to Los Angeles, Frankfurt to São Paolo and more. I was asked to design materials for this co-ordinated day of action, in order to ensure the group’s message looked and sounded loud and clear.
In advance of the launch, we agreed upon a core message of “record profits for airlines, workers under pressure.” Each union in each different airport could then go into further detail about exactly what kind of pressure workers are facing and why.
I designed an activist pack of materials and instructions, provided in English, Spanish, German, Dutch and Swedish. The activist pack included: A5 leaflet, White Paper (A4, 18-page), model press releases, artwork for a 6 metre by 1.5 metre banner, 30-second viral video, static and animated web banners. It also contained template Tweets and Facebook posts.
On the day we managed to send a strong and unified message to the industry. We flooded social media and took ownership of the hashtag #AirportWorkers. We also achieved excellent press coverage in publications such as the Guardian, the Times, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg Newswire, the Irish Times, Die Welt and many more.
One very successful element of the activist pack was a 30-second viral video encouraging airport workers to take selfies and post them to the hashtag #AirportWorkers on the day of the launch. It was simply intended as a way of reaching out to groups of airport workers who might want to take part in the action but in a non-traditional way.
In fact, the video was very effective in raising awareness of the launch and encouraging use of the hashtag. For example, the German version of the video was shared by ver.di – Germany’s second-largest union – on their Facebook page. It was viewed over 12,000 times and shared by 157 users, making it one of their most successful social media posts!