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Airport's volunteer staff move criticised

ONE of Scotland's major airports is under fire for recruiting dozens of volunteers to work for free as Scotland prepares to welcome tens of thousands of visitors this summer.

Glasgow Airport wants 40 volunteers for its 'summer of celebration', where instead of being paid they can enjoy "the buzz of being part of so many exciting events".

As well as meeting and greeting people arriving for the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and MTV Awards, they will be expected to work during the peak summer period, school breaks during October and the Christmas holidays.

Duties include helping passengers with misplaced luggage or who have lost their way in the airport, taking part in test events, "providing reassurance to anxious passengers" and "sharing your passion, energy, can-do attitude".

Those selected would be required to work at least 120 hours between May and the end of December, across all seven days and with some shifts starting at 4am.

Glasgow Airport said it was simply formalising the many requests it receives from the public for work experience, adding that it had full-time ambassadors to carry out much of the 'meet and greet' work.

But union leaders have attacked the plans as free labour, claiming it is playing on the glamour of the sports stars and celebrities to recruit people to work during peak holiday periods.

One leading union source said: "I wonder what's next. Marks and Spencers taking on volunteers to deal with the Christmas rush in exchange for the festive buzz?"

Ian Tasker, STUC assistant secretary, said: "Glasgow Airport is a highly profitable, commercialised organisation yet they're clearly not paying for any of these positions.

"What we're seeing is a problem similar to zero hours contracts but with zero pay.

"While they might be associating these roles with the glamour of the Games, people are also being ask to work the summer peak, October school week and Christmas. Aren't there paid staff to do this or does the airport rely on volunteers to do their job now?"

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: "Some of the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world are pouring millions into these events and it's anticipated that the net economic benefit of the Commonwealth Games alone to Scotland will surpass £100 million.

"Is it really beyond the realms of possibility for Glasgow Airport to work with the organising committees of the respective events and their sponsors to help re-distribute some of this wealth and create paid employment opportunities for people?

A Glasgow Airport spokesman said: "This is a well-intentioned campaign that aims to provide a warm welcome for the thousands of people who will visit Glasgow during major events. In no way will the call for volunteers replace our efforts in generating long-term, sustainable employment.

"All volunteers will receive formal training, be provided with uniforms, have access to free car parking and receive a meal allowance."

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