As you will know, we have for several years been campaigning against the scandal of toxins escaping into aircraft cabins. Our quest for a greater openness and honesty, has taken the views of HolidayTravelWatch and the experiences of holidaymakers around the world, to try and bring about the conditions whereby common sense and safety will prevail!
I have met and continue to meet some remarkable people, who through no fault of their own, have been affected by the toxins that escape into a cockpit or passenger cabin of an aircraft. We have been privy to the experiences of holidaymakers who have suffered ill-health as a result of their exposure during a flight and who live with the continuing disability from those incidents.
So what, people ask me, is the response of the aviation industry, whenever I speak with them?
One word; constipated!
A strange description you might think, but then I am usually speaking with engineers who express how they do not like to engage with lobbyists! There is a curious avoidance of the fundamental issues and a very obvious corporate position that they follow, which is clearly dictated to them from on high!
I can hear the protests from my analysis from here, but, it is absolutely clear to me from where I stand that the positions they have presented have not been successfully argued and therefore the impasse continues!
Politicians I have engaged with on this matter develop a glaze-like quality because quite simply, they are beholden to the power of the aviation industry and the 'benefits' it offers to a society.
I don't have a problem with such 'benefits' or for companies seeking to make money; what I object to is the lack of candour and openness and a clear willingness to put right what has gone wrong.
I think anyone who has engaged with me can see quite clearly that we believe that what we need on this important issue is:
- Strong Legislation;
- Legislation that is enforced, and
- Standards that complement that Legislation and that is created by a wide cohort and not the privileged few!
I have gone even further; I have called for several years for an International Protocol that will:
- Develop a wide cohort on an International basis;
- Bring together competing Scientific opinion;
- Bring together competing Technical opinion;
- Bring together competing Medical opinion;
- Bring together competing Legal Opinion, and
- Create the conditions for an International Scheme to help those affected and to manage the enormity of the challenge to the Aviation Industry.
Does that sound like incendiary Consumer Politics?
I was struck by a conversation I had here in Europe with a Trade Union Official. They had recently been censured by their own Trade Union because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, that is representing their members interests on this toxic issue.
The Trade Union criticised this member's activity by highlighting that 'they' walked a 'fine line' and had to be careful about 'advertising' this issue to passengers, because:
"...we all know they’ll start suing the airlines and then our members won’t have jobs".
So there we have it, at least one Trade Union with the heart of a lion and demonstrating that the interests of the passengers, the very people who pay for a flight ticket and who actually provide the real reason why their members have a job in the first place, are way down the pecking order!
I would so like to meet that Trade Union official!
Not all Trade Unions however appear to think in this parochial way. In today's Guardian, there is an article written by Len McClusky, the leader of the Unite Union (this is not the Union I have referred to above!). In his article he states revealingly that:
"The central message is clear – the rights of private ownership are unchallengeable, even in a vital economic sector like energy, and the ability of the capitalist to hold workforce and community to ransom is undiluted".
He cites the consequences that follow both for a community and an individual that stand against such forces.
I can only hope that the Trade Union I referred to, reflect on the challenge that they have made to their member and that they and other Trade Unions join in more robustly than they have done to date, to tackle this daily scourge in the skies above!