Two hundred aircraft cleaners walked out at New York's LaGuardia Airport amid fears that they have too little protection from exposure to Ebola.
Among the duties of the workers are cleaning up garbage, vomit and faeces from bathrooms and other areas of passenger aircraft.
The walkout took place as the US authorities prepare to start screening at five major airports and was organised by the 32BJ Service Employees International Union as part of a long-standing campaign to win better working conditions.
The cleaners involved in the walkout are not responsible for international flights but are concerned that passengers from areas with outbreaks can transfer to domestic flights.
At New York's John F. Kennedy airport, aircraft cleaner Sharekul Islam said his job frequently exposes him to the body fluids and waste that can transmit the disease. “We are always with feces and near garbage,” he said.
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
1/7 25 March 2014
This outbreak of the Ebola virus first emerged in the Guéckédou region of Guinea, at a crossroads with both Liberia and Sierra Leone
2/7 31 March
On 31 March the WHO confirmed the outbreak was now international, spreading first into Liberia's northern-most Lofa region
3/7 27 May
The virus spread to Sierra Leone at the end of May - just as agencies were hoping the worst was over
4/7 27 July
In Sierra Leone the virus boomed, and then it spread to Nigeria when the Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer flew from Monrovia to Lagos
5/7 9 August
The Nigeria cases sparked fears around the world, and there have now been deaths in Spain and Saudi Arabia involving people who had travelled to West Africa. The numbers of cases continue to rise
6/7 17-20 September
In mid-September, Senegal confirmed its first case linked to the Ebola outbreak, a development the WHO described as a top priority emergency. Numbers of cases continued to grow exponentially in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as experts warned they could number one million by January if not contained
7/7 8 October
Two cases of Ebola have now been reported in the US and Europe - the first times the virus has been contracted among health workers outside Africa
Rob Hill, vice president of 32BJ, said: “The issues happened way before Ebola, but it's now come to a head.”
The airport authority said it would review concerns while Air Serv said in a statement: “We continually review our policies and procedures for updates and enhancements, and communicate updates to employees, as necessary - for example, including an update on protocols for Ebola just last week.”
The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who would suffer severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
Sylvia Burwell, the US cabinet Secretary for Health, said the public is concerned about their safety during the Ebola scare because of the high mortality rate: “The nation is frightened, and people are frightened of this disease.”Reuse content