Jamaica’s Air Traffic Controllers Call In Sick

An Air Jamaica 737 landing
Aero Icarus, Flickr

Jamaica‘s airports only experienced a small hiccup this weekend as the country’s air traffic controllers staged a sick-out in protest over low wages and mismanagement of the civil aviation authority. The posts were quickly filled by supervisors and managers and there were no reports of flight safety being compromised.

A Jamaican court has since granted an injunction to the Ministry of Labour, ordering the ATCs back to work, though there has been no response from the union representing the protesting workers.

Flights appeared to be operating more or less on schedule, though there were reports from the capital, Kingston, of delays on inbound and outbound flights. There were no delays at Sangster International in Montego Bay, Jamaica’s busiest airport.

The union had said that the sick-out will affect traffic in Jamaica’s airspace over the coming days. However, with the abandoned posts having been taken over fairly quickly by management, the impact of the protest appears to be less than hoped for.

Sweden’s Male Train Drivers Wear Skirts Following Row Over Uniform

Sweden Train
Dan Clay, Flickr

At least a dozen train drivers in Sweden have taken to wearing skirts as they go about their job after their employer banned them from wearing shorts.

The men, who operate trains north of Stockholm, wanted to wear shorts during warmer weather but were forbidden from doing so after their train line was taken over by a new company this year. The drivers said they collectively decided to wear skirts once summer started because they were much more breathable than pants.

“The passengers stare at us but so far no one has said anything – well, not to me, anyway. And I don’t mind as it’s more about comfort,” one driver told the BBC.In an interesting twist, the company operating the train line has given the male conductors the green light to continue wearing the female attire. A representative explained the decision to a local newspaper, saying, “Our thinking is that one should look decent and proper when representing Arriva and the present uniforms do that. If the man only wants [to wear] a skirt then that is OK. To tell them to do something else would be discrimination.”

Celebrating May Day: Images Of Workers Around The World

May Day, Bolivia
Today is May Day, when the world celebrates the struggles and sacrifices of the common worker. Like this cheese seller in Tupiza, Bolivia, photographed by Gadling’s resident cheese expert Laurel Miller. After some hard hours making her product, this woman comes to the market hoping to sell it all before the day is through. She uses a plastic bag on a stick to keep the flies away.

A range of unions and workers’ parties declared May Day a workers’ holiday in 1898. The date commemorated a three-day general strike in the U.S. that started on May 1, 1886, during which workers demanded an eight-hour day. Police fired into a protest by employees at the McCormick-International Harvester Company and killed three. On May 4, workers staged a protest against the killings at Haymarket Square, Chicago. A bomb went off and the police charged into the demonstrators. At least a dozen people died that day, including seven officers. Eight activists were sentenced to hang for the bombing, although there was widespread criticism about the lack of evidence.

American workers eventually got an eight-hour day, but it took several more major demonstrations and lots more people getting hurt. Many countries still don’t offer the benefits we now take for granted. Traveling around the world we come across people in lots of different lines of work. Some jobs are good, some are bad, and some are downright grueling. I’ll never forget a man I saw on a construction site in Damascus, Syria, back in 1994.

A crew was digging a deep trench into the sidewalk near our hotel, and every day my travel companions and I would pass by. Most of the men were down in the trench digging, but one guy had the job of sitting on an upturned bucket at street level manning a pump to take away water from the trench. He pulled on a rope attached to a pulley overhead, which yanked a crude pump at the bottom of the excavation. He’d set up a rhythm and sat there pulling all day. We saw him, every morning, noon, and evening, for days on end. We dubbed him, “The Man With the Most Boring Job in the World.”

I regret I never talked to him. While I’ve had my share of soul-destroying jobs, I bet he could have taught me a thing or two about what it means to work for a living. So Happy May Day, Man With the Most Boring Job in the World, and Happy May Day to all the other workers photographed in this gallery of shots by Gadling bloggers and members of the Gadling Flickr pool!

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British Protesters Campaign For A Rain-Free Olympics

gandys flip flops And I thought the weather was controlled by nature. Recently, a group of bikini-clad female protesters in London headed to Parliament Square to demand sunnier weather and a rain-free Olympics. While this may sound outlandish, the comical campaign is actually part of a bigger project to help a community.

In the hopes that the government complies with the protesters – or that Mother Nature simply supplies some sunshine – brothers Rob and Paul Forkan of Gandys Flip Flops are getting their product ready, and will be putting partial earnings towards the building of an orphanage in Goa, India. The pair, who were orphaned after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, are doing the project as a tribute to their parents.

“The poor weather and the current economic climate haven’t exactly put people in the mood for the beach,” Rob Forkan told the Daily Mail. “We thought it would be interesting to combine the two issues with a protest in jest. Hopefully we will cheer even Parliament up!”

[photo via Gandy’s Flip Flops]

Chicago’s Park Hyatt turns on heat lamps on picketing unionized employees

Ouch. Were there any worse time to stage an outdoor protest in Chicago it would be this week. The temperature has been surging past 95 degrees for the past three days, and terrified residents are darting from air conditioned homestead to transportation to office.

The union workers at Chicago’s Park Hyatt are taking a stand though, and on schedule were protesting over the course of this past Thursday. At issue? They’re concerned with Hyatt’s ability to contract non-union workers in the future — and by extension the security of their current jobs. You can read more about their grievances over at the Chicago Tribune.

Naturally the strike is all within the rights of the unionized workers and the Park Hyatt has to respect their space — except that they turned on the outdoor heat lamps during the protest. The move, blamed on one unruly manager, caught the attention of WBEZ yesterday morning, and since that time the hotel has been on the defensive, issuing the following statement.

“Hyatt regrets the events that occurred at the Park Hyatt Chicago and apologizes to everyone who was impacted by them. After looking into the incident, we have determined that the decision to turn on the heaters was made by a manager. It was clearly a decision that was not in line with our values or with our corporate policies. We have a long history of respecting our associates’ rights and caring about their well-being and this unacceptable behavior is certainly is not illustrative of that history. We can assure you that this was an isolated incident and such a thing will not happen again”

[flickr image via Michael Lehet]