British Airways workers at Heathrow airport have voted to strike with their industrial action set to cause even more chaos during the peak holiday season.
Around 700 British Airways ground crew and check-in staff voted for strike action following a dispute with the airline over pay after BA used “fire and rehire” to cut workers pay during the pandemic.
The Unite and GMB unions have balloted their members and a spokesperson for GMB said they are asking BA “to reinstate the 10%” [pay] taken from “primarily low-paid women” working for the airline at Heathrow. The GMB ballot recorded an 80% turnout with 95% voting in favour of a strike.
Workers are reported to be “furious” that senior BA staff had their pre-pandemic pay rates reinstated while ground staff have “had nothing”.
British Airways is believed to have offered a one-off 10% payment but the union has rejected this as it is only for one-year rather than a permanent reinstatement of their previous salaries.
British Airways staff at Gatwick ballot to strike
GMB must give BA two weeks notice before the strike which is expected to be held towards the end of July – when school holidays begin. The union has warned the airline faces a “gruelling summer of travel chaos” and that BA staff at Gatwick airport will also begin balloting for strikes over a different dispute.
A spokesperson for BA said: “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.
“We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team.”
However, BA has been accused of operating a “callous fire and rehire policy” by GMB national officer Nadine Houghton who said industrial unrest “is now starting to spread like wildfire to other groups of BA workers with many more now considering a vote to walk out”.
Houghton added: “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% they had stolen from them last year with full back pay and the 10% bonus which other colleagues have been paid.
“GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with the travel chaos caused by staff shortages and IT failures. At the same time, they’ve had their pay slashed during BA’s callous fire and rehire policy.
“What did BA think was going to happen?
“It’s not too late to save the summer holidays – other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed. Do the same for ground and check-in staff and this industrial action can be nipped in the bud.”