Heathrow Airport is facing strikes this summer as hundreds of check-in and ground staff voted in favor of walkouts during the peak holiday period in a dispute with British Airways over wages .
The GMB and Unite unions voted against around 700 workers employed by BA for industrial action. Around half of workers are represented by the GMB and 95% of those who voted said they were ready to strike with a turnout of over 80%. Strike dates will be confirmed in the coming days, but should be during school holidays. The Unite ballot ends on Monday.
The dispute stems from BA using “fire and rehire” practices to cut workers’ wages during the pandemic when they could not fight back, the GMB union said.
“All our members are asking for – and these are mostly low-wage women – is for BA to restore the 10% that was stripped from them during the pandemic,” a GMB spokesperson said.
BA said: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome and that the unions have chosen to follow this course. Despite the extremely difficult environment and losses of over £4 billion, we made a 10% payment offer which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.
“We are fully committed to working together to find a solution, because to meet the needs of our customers and rebuild our business, we must work as a team. We will of course keep our customers informed of what this means for them as the situation evolves. »
GMB said while BA offered a one-off 10% bonus for this year, the union is demanding that the 10% pay cut imposed on workers during the pandemic be permanently reversed.
The union also pointed out that bosses’ pay had returned to pre-pandemic levels, and chief executive of BA IAG’s parent company Luis Gallego is in line for a £4.9m payout this year if it achieves all its objectives.
His pay package sparked a major shareholder uproar last week, with more than a quarter of investors failing to back him. IAG faced a rebellion at its annual meeting in Madrid where 17.8% of investors voted against the controversial salary policy and 7.8% abstained. Investment advisers Glass Lewis and ISS called the compensation plan “excessive”.
Nadine Houghton, a GMB country manager, said: ‘With grim predictability, holidaymakers are facing massive disruption thanks to the stubbornness of British Airways.
“Our members need to get back the 10% they stole from them last year with full salary arrears and the 10% bonus that other colleagues received.
“GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with travel chaos caused by understaffing and IT outages. At the same time, their pay was cut due to BA’s ruthless fire and rehire policy.
“What did BA think was going to happen? It’s not too late to save the summer vacation – other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed, so do ground and check-in staff and this industrial action may be stifled in the offer.
The strike vote comes as Heathrow Airport has revised its forecast for passenger numbers in 2022 upwards. Around 20.1 million people traveled to Heathrow between January and May, and the airport said that he had seen a steady increase in traffic this year after “two extremely difficult years”. .
Stronger-than-expected demand prompted it to raise its forecast for this year to 54.4 million passengers – 67% of 2019 levels – from its December estimate of 45.5 million passengers.
Heathrow now expects adjusted profits to rise 257% on a year ago to £1.4bn, with revenue set to more than double to £2.6bn.
Thousands of BA engineers, at Heathrow, Gatwick and Scotland, as well as call center staff in Newcastle and Manchester, are holding advisory ballots for possible industrial action in a separate pay dispute.