BA staff at Heathrow vote for summer strike
Summer holidays for thousands of families have been thrown into further turmoil after British Airways workers at Heathrow Airport voted to go on strike over pay.
Unite and GMB union members who are mostly check-in staff backed industrial action to take place, probably next month. It is understood that the unions will target the third or fourth weekend of July.
The unions said the action was because of a 10% pay cut imposed at the peak of the pandemic not being reinstated.
Some 500 Unite members recorded a 94.7% vote in favour of industrial action, while 95% of GMB members backed the walkouts. The strike dates will be confirmed in the coming days.
The proposed action relates to fewer than 50% of British Airways staff based at Heathrow in customer-facing roles only, and there are other customer service workers who have not been balloted.
It is understood that if strikes go ahead, BA, which operates from terminals three and five at Heathrow, has plans to cover staff, including managers potentially dealing with check-ins.
However, there would still be disruption for passengers, especially at terminal five, leading to cancellations, which would be focused on routes with several daily flights.
Britain’s biggest airport has been mired in chaos since March as it struggled to cope with a surge in travellers as restrictions were lifted
Today it raised its passenger number outlook, saying it expects 54.4 million people to travel through the airport in 2022.
The upgrade from 53 million forecast last month is expected to increase its revenue and adjusted core profit for the year, it said.
GMB’s National Officer Nadine Houghton said: “With grim predictability, holidaymakers face massive disruption thanks to the pig-headedness of British Airways. BA have tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10% one off bonus payment, but this doesn’t cut the mustard.
“Our members need to be reinstated the 10 per cent they had stolen from them last year with full back pay and the 10% bonus which other colleagues have been paid.”
Unite officer Russ Ball said: “The problems British Airways is facing are entirely of its own making. It brutally cut jobs and pay during the pandemic even though the Government was paying them to save jobs.”
British Airways said it was “extremely disappointed” with the result of the ballot.
“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4bn, we made an offer of a 10% payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues,” a statement said.
The airline said it was committed to talks to “find a solution” with unions.