Bad things do not happen here

On the flight to Singapore I was looking at the flight path app on my monitor and was struck by the flight route…

Obviously the direct route would pass over Ukraine air space, but after the Air Malaysia incident, airlines are taking a cautionary approach and flying around, rather than over the Ukraine.

One thing this brought home to me was how close that conflict is, essentially it is an armed conflict right in the middle of Europe. This just goes to show how bad things don’t only happen on the other side of the world or in remote places, somewhere in Africa, in  places with complicated names that you cannot remember,  but in this case right on our doorstep.

Just like the other war no one seems to want to talk about that the Frontex forces are waging right on the southern European border against people attempting to enter into Europe from Africa or via the Turkey/ Greece route. This has cost thousands of people their lives – just this year – especially the hazardous crossing by boat across to Italy and Spain, when nutshells of boats sink with hundreds of people crowded on board, after having been ripped off by organized gangs who exploit their often desperate plights by extorting ridiculously high sums of money for the crossing.

This just goes to show how conflict is happening on our very doorstep.

A bit like… exploitation.

I never cease to be amazed by the way that some companies treat their ground workers.

Companies will hire on people from low-wage countries, work them to the bone – and pay them a pitiful wage to boot. In the US they refer to the climbers as the industry’s athletes (something that irritates me intensely, but that is another story, to be written about another time). If that is so, then the groundies are this industry’s backbone, a backbone that is sadly all too often worn down and broken.

He’s glad for the money, it’s more than he would ever earn at home.

This tends to be the kind of justification you hear when you challenge this kind of practice. If I were to accuse that person of exploiting their employee, they would probably be mortally offended and deny it categorically. Exploitation is something that does not happen here.

But it does, like the conflict in the Ukraine, like the undeclared Frontex war, like the people drowning off Lampedusa, bad things can happen right on our door step – exploitation being one of them.

The good news is that we can do something against exploitation: we can ensure that people get a fair deal when they are working on arb crews and challenge it should this is not the case. Ground workers are an integral part of the work we do, should not become the weakest link – and ultimately influence to a very high degree the speed and efficiency of a team and therefore deserve our support and solidarity.