Cabin crew unions, united in EurECCA, call on their national authorities, and on the European institutions, to recognise and re-label the profession of cabin crew as an arduous profession. Unions throughout Europe are demanding a lower retirement age, the recognition of the most common health issues as occupational diseases and the right to work in part time contracts.
Cabin crew working on board an aircraft are exposed to ergonomic, environmental, psychological and physical risks associated with their work. Examples include:
o Ergonomic risks: heavy lifting, working in increasingly narrow and confined spaces, vibrations and turbulence.
o Environmental risks: cosmic radiation, artificial light and changes in temperature.
o Psychosocial risks: rupture of the circadian cycle, exposure to jet lag resulting in disruption of meal and sleep routines, social isolation and the stress of having to manage unruly passengers and medical emergencies on board. Apart from this, in many European countries, cabin crew suffer from lack of work-life balance because they are not allowed to work part time.
o Physical risk: being exposed to contaminated cabin air by organophosphates.
Multiple studies have been published stating that cabin crew, as a result of these risks, are more prone to cancer, musculoskeletal diseases, hearing problems and psychological disorders. As these risks go largely unknown or even worse, disregarded we are now taking action and alerting both the national governments and European Commission Social Dialogue to the importance of protecting the mental and physical health of cabin crew.
Xavier Gautier, Secretary General of EurECCA, states, "The tendency of airlines to overcrowd aircraft combined with the lack of European standards for galley and aisle space is creating a serious problem in aviation. Passengers are seated so close to each other they often get irritated and even disruptive, thus jeopardising the occupational health and safety of cabin crew".
Corinne Basarot, representative of STAVLA and Health and Safety specialist of EurECCA states, “It is important to support this campaign and to make the public and the national authorities see that, while it may seem so from the outside, this is far from being a glamorous profession. Nobody except our families are witnesses to our exhausting and long working days and night and they, like us, suffer from cabin crew’s unpredictable work schedules which means we often miss important moments with loved ones for example, at weekends or national holidays".