Workers employed as check-in staff by British Airways (BA) at London Heathrow Airport have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
More than 500 members of UK union Unite recorded a 94.7% vote in favor of strike action.
Similarly, a total of 95% of GMB union members who voted said they were prepared to strike, on a turnout of more than 80%.
Unite said that the dispute is a result of BA restoring the 10% pay cut made during the pandemic to management but refusing to reinstate wage rates for “A scales” check-in staff. It also said that it is giving BA a short window of opportunity to remove the 10% pay cut before announcing strikes which will cause severe disruption to flights this summer.
Oliver Richardson, Unite national officer for aviation, said, “The problems BA 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.
“In the case of this dispute, they have insulted this workforce, slashing pay by 10% only to restore it to managers but not to our members. BA is treating its loyal workforce as second class citizens and they will not put up with it a moment longer.
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption to BA’s services at Heathrow. The company has a short window of opportunity to reinstate our members pay before strikes are called. I urge BA not to squander that opportunity.”
Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said, “With grim predictability, holiday makers 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.”
A statement by BA said, “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action. Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4bn (US$4.9bn), we made an offer of a 10% payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues. 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. We will of course keep our customers updated about what this means for them as the situation evolves.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said, “We are liaising with British Airways and will support them to minimize any potential disruption for passengers.”