British Airways strike: When and why are airline staff striking?

British Airways' headaches aren't going to stop anytime soon. (PA)
British Airways staff are planning a walkout over a pay dispute. (PA)

British Airways staff have voted to go on a strike over a pay dispute with bosses.

Members of the GMB and Unite backed industrial action, saying walkouts could take place in the peak travel months of summer.

The strike means the UK could face yet more major travel disruption after following mass rail strikes this week.

The strike by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) has caused chaos for commuters after the rail network was essentially brought to a standstill on Tuesday and Thursday, with further action planned on Saturday.

Read more: Inflation for the poorest households is ‘well into the double digits’, economist warns

The strike will cause chaos at check-in. (PA)
The strike will cause chaos at check-in. (PA)

On top of this many other unionised industries are considering their own action as employees from across the country grow fed up with their near-zero pay increases during a time of spiralling inflation.

Why are British Airways staff striking?

Members of the GMB and Unite backed industrial action on Thursday.

The central dispute centres on claims that during the pandemic BA slashed pay by 10%.

The unions say that this 10% has since been restored to managers but not to lower-level staff.

GMB said BA had offered them a one-off bonus of 10% of their wage, rather than the full reinstatement of the pay level.

They also demanded their members get the back pay for the missing 10%, which they say some of their colleagues have been given.

Members of the GMB voted by 91% in favour of industrial action while Unite said 94% of its members backed action.

Staff are demanding pay be returned to pre-pandemic levels. (PA)
Staff are demanding pay be returned to pre-pandemic levels. (PA)

Read more: What Does Inflation Have To Do With Rail Workers' Salaries?

Around 700 staff based at Heathrow are expected to be involved, which is around half of BA's staff at the airport.

Most of the people involved will be check-in employees.

A BA statement 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, 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.”

When are airline staff striking?

The dates for the strike have not yet been set but it is expected to happen over the school summer holidays.

The timing of the strike has been deliberately chosen to be at peak times, when BA was hoping to get customer numbers back to pre-pandemic levels.

Downing Street said strike action would add to passengers’ “misery” at airports and called for BA to put contingency measures in place.

A No 10 spokesman said: “This is obviously a matter for British Airways and the unions and we would strongly encourage both to come together to find a settlement.

“We don’t want to see any further disruption for passengers and strike action would only add to the misery being faced by passengers at airports.

“DfT (Department for Transport) will obviously work closely to look at what contingency measures BA could put in place and we expect BA to put in place contingency measures to ensure that as little disruption is caused, and that where there is disruption that passengers can be refunded”.