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'Wrong move could kill you': Baggage handler warns new staff 'crashed through' training

12 July 2022, 09:26 | Updated: 12 July 2022, 16:47

The UK's airports are in crisis
The UK's airports are in crisis. Picture: Getty

By Charlotte Lynch

A baggage handler at one of London's busiest airports has warned of dangerous working conditions as untrained staff are being "crashed through" to fix massive backlogs.

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The anonymous whistle-blower has told LBC workers have already been badly injured, and he fears something could "kill them if they make a wrong move".

He said: "Weights are increasing, and they're crashing these guys through so fast. They're coming in knowing nothing, they have never worked in an airport or that type of environment before. There's no time to train somebody, and you are thrown in the deep end.

"You're working near to hundreds and hundreds of litres of fuel and the equipment we use is old, it often breaks and doesn't work. It's dangerous.

"They bring these young kids in off the streets and it's a baptism by fire. For every 10 we bring in, we maybe keep two or three."

Read more: UK's worst airports for flight delays revealed as Heathrow warns of more cancellations

Read more: Over 10,000 more flights scrapped by BA amid worsening airport crisis

The ground handler also compared the work to slave labour, telling LBC “it’s like stepping back in time and going back to the workhouses, you’re working very, very hard for very, very little".

He says poor pay is the main reason why firms cannot fill vacancies.

"They're coming in at less than £10 an hour. They could go down the road to Lidl, Aldi, Tesco, and get a job that pays more for doing a lot less, in an environment that probably isn't going to kill them if they make a wrong move."

And he's warned summer holidaymakers will face "pain, queues, delays and cancellations" as airports "are not going to cope" with a boom in passenger numbers, when the school holidays begin.

He said: "I am dreading the start of the school holidays. Our business escalates dramatically. We aren't going to cope - it's as simple as that.

"The industry is undervalued and underpaid, this is a really difficult job done at really difficult times and it needs to pay better. If it paid better, you would have more staff."

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