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British Airways employees in their hundreds at Heathrow Airport have decided to go on an industrial strike action over a number of issues with salary being the most prominent.
Most of the check-in personnel, who are members of the Unite and GMB unions, supported Thursday’s strike decision and while no specific date has been announced yet, feelers suggest that the strike would hold during the summer.
During the summer vacations, when traveler demand is anticipated to be close to pre-pandemic levels, a total of 700 employees are planning to go on strike. The unions said that the strike was brought about by the failure to reinstate a 10% salary cut that had been implemented at the height of the outbreak.
500 Unite members voted in favor of industrial action with a 94.7 percent turnout, while 95% of GMB members supported the walkouts. In the upcoming days, the strike dates will be confirmed.
Other customer service employees have not been balloted, and the proposed action only applies to less than 50% of British Airways employees headquartered at Heathrow who have client-facing positions.
It is believed that BA, which operates from Heathrow terminals three and five, has plans to cover personnel, including managers who may be responsible for check-ins if strikes occur.
However, there would still be an inconvenience for travelers, particularly at terminal 5, which would result in cancellations that would be concentrated on routes with multiple daily flights.
While other British Airways employees allegedly received a 10% bonus, “the check-in staff have had nothing,” according to the GMB. BA expressed its “great disappointment” in the election’s outcome.
According to a statement, “despite the extraordinarily difficult circumstances and losses of more than £4 billion, we made an offer of a 10% payment, which was accepted by the majority of the other colleagues.” In addition, the airline declared that it was dedicated to working with unions to “find a solution.”
The BBC has learned that other divisions of BA’s company, including those with employees in ground operations, engineering, and cabin crew who Unite and GMB also cover, have agreed to a salary increase of 10%.
Russ Ball, a Unite officer, claimed that BA had “insulted this workforce” by cutting managers’ pay by 10% while leaving our members’ pay unchanged. According to Mr. Ball, the airline had a “short window of opportunity” to increase employee pay to levels before the pandemic or risk walkouts that would “inevitably cause substantial disruption.”
Nevertheless, GMB national officer Nadine Houghton claimed that BA had “tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the shape of a 10% one-time incentive payment, but this doesn’t cut the mustard.”
Strike action “would simply add to the hardship faced by travelers at airports,” Downing Street warned both parties, urging them to “come together to reach a settlement.”
Its operations have already been impacted this year by IT issues and a staffing deficit. Industrial action can now be added to the mix—Heathrow’s check-in personnel plan to strike during the summer travel season. Although the airline will have backup measures in place, disruption seems inevitable given how stressed the systems are already.
The airline maintains that it wishes to collaborate with the workforce and that its 10% one-time bonus offer was a precursor to substantive compensation negotiations. However, the industry has not fully recovered; therefore, it is still under pressure.
However, the issue it is currently experiencing is that when the cuts were initially implemented, many staff members were outraged by what they perceived as the airline’s management’s heavy-handed approach. And it’s now quite obvious that many employees don’t believe what their supervisors say.
Jeff Payne was a BA supervisor at Heathrow Terminal 5 until he voluntarily left his position in August 2020. He is currently a Surrey postman. When international flights resumed, Mr. Payne, who worked for the airline for 24 years, claimed he had the choice to return to BA, but he declined when he was told to keep working there for less money.
In recent weeks, airport issues and aircraft cancellations have affected tens of thousands of travelers. In addition, there have been worries voiced about additional travel issues during the summer after hundreds of flights around the UK were canceled during the week of the Platinum Jubilee and school half-term.
Multiple causes have contributed to the Several factors that have caused the disruption, but staff shortages have made it difficult for the aviation sector to meet the spike in demand for international travel.
The prediction for annual passenger traffic at Heathrow Airport has climbed once more. The largest airport in the UK estimates 54.4 million people would pass through its terminals, an increase of almost nine million above the forecast it provided in December.
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