London Heathrow Airport strike: British Airways flights workers begin summer holiday walk-out vote

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GMB warned that British Airways would face a “gruelling summer of travel chaos” if the company doesn’t give staff “what’s rightfully theirs”.

Hundreds of British Airways check in and ground staff at Heathrow Airport have started voting on whether to take strike action this summer.

If the GMB and Unite members vote to take industrial action they would walk out during the school holidays, causing disruption to families travelling abroad.

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GMB warned that British Airways would face a “gruelling summer of travel chaos” if the company doesn’t give staff “what’s rightfully theirs”.

British Airways check in staff have threatened strike action this summer over pay disputeBritish Airways check in staff have threatened strike action this summer over pay dispute
British Airways check in staff have threatened strike action this summer over pay dispute | AFP via Getty Images

The ballot ends on June 23 with the result expected the same day.

Why are British Airways staff considering strike action at London Heathrow Airport?

The unions say check in and ground staff are up in arms because a 10% pay cut imposed on them during the pandemic has not been reinstated.

This was despite bosses having their pre-Covid pay rates reinstated, the unions have claimed.

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Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: "Staff at Heathrow have been verbally and physically abused by angry passengers after British Airways’ staff shortages and IT failures nearly brought the airport to a standstill.

“On top of that, they had their pay slashed during BA’s callous fire and rehire policy.

“Now they want that money back. Bosses have had it back.

“Heathrow ground and check in staff want to know why they haven’t had it too.

“Unrest is now starting to spread like wildfire to other groups of BA workers with many more now considering a vote to walk out.

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"British Airways faces a gruelling summer of travel chaos if they won’t give these workers what’s rightfully theirs.”

There are only certain circumstances where an airline doesn’t have to help or compensate you (image: AFP/Getty Images)There are only certain circumstances where an airline doesn’t have to help or compensate you (image: AFP/Getty Images)
There are only certain circumstances where an airline doesn’t have to help or compensate you (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

When are British Airways staff Heathrow Airport strikes likely to take place?

As both GMB and Unite still need to vote, dates for any potential strikes have not been agreed yet.

However they said “any industrial action will definitely take place during the summer holiday period”.

That would be between July 23 and August 31 - which would cause maximum disruption to families going on holiday on British Airways flights.

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Sharon GrahamSharon Graham
Sharon Graham | Credit: Unite the Union

What has Unite said about the possible British Airways strike action at Heathrow Airport?

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said:  “Under the cover of Covid, British Airways used the abhorrent fire and rehire practice to slash check in and ground handlers pay by 10%.

“In a further disgraceful move, British Airways has now restored the pay of managers but has kept the cut for these workers.

“This is why our members have voted overwhelmingly to proceed to strike action.

“This is about paying the rate for the job.

“British Airways has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute through negotiations but it has failed to do so.

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“Our members are left with no choice but to vote for strike action this summer.

“Unite will be giving its members its unequivocal support until this dispute is resolved.”

What has British Airways said about the potential strike action at Heathrow Airport?

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “While this is not a strike ballot, it is a disappointing response from this small group, considering our genuine offer of a 10% reward this year ahead of planned pay talks.

“Our colleagues are the heart of our business and we are continuing to talk with their union representatives.”

Have you suffered during the travel chaos at airports this summer? Email [email protected] to tell your story.

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