London Heathrow Airport strike threat: British Airways flights workers balloted for summer holiday walk outs

Unions GMB and Unite have said that any industrial action from British Airways staff at Heathrow Airport will take place during the summer holidays.

British Airways travellers could see their summer holiday plans disrupted with possible strike action by check-in and ground staff.

Hundreds of Unite and GMB members working at London Heathrow Airport have voted in favour of holding a formal industrial action ballot.

The strike ballot will begin shortly, with dates to be confirmed during the next few days.

British Airways check in staff have threatened strike action this summer over pay dispute

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 of an alleged 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.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, explained: "These workers are claiming back what they had robbed from them due to British Airways’ callous fire and rehire during the pandemic.

“British Airways forced our members into pay cuts during the pandemic, when they had little workplace power to fight back.

“Now our members are back at work and staff shortages are hammering the company - it is their time to claim back what is theirs.

“These loyal workers have stood by British Airways through thick and thin, they have kept passengers moving when staff shortages and IT failures nearly brought the operation to a standstill.

“They received shocking abuse from passengers, all while British Airways are refusing to return their 10% pay cut.

"If British Airways wants to avoid industrial action that will trash many people’s summer holidays, they need to do what’s right by check in staff.”

British Airways planes at London Heathrow Airport terminal 5. Credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

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

As both GMB and Unite still need to ballot their members, 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 case maximum disruption to families going on holiday on British Airways flights.

Sharon Graham

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.

“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.”