Summer holidays in jeopardy as thousands of British Airways staff threaten strike

·3-min read
Unions accuse British Airways of offering workers 'crumbs from the table' - Tim Ockenden/PA
Unions accuse British Airways of offering workers 'crumbs from the table' - Tim Ockenden/PA

Summer holidays are under threat as thousands more British Airways workers could go on strike unless the airline grants pay rises.

Check-in staff at Heathrow Airport have already voted to walk out in a dispute over pay. Unite the Union has now said 16,000 BA workers, ranging from cabin crew to engineers, could join them.

In a consultative ballot of its 16,000 BA members, Unite secured an overwhelming majority in favour of potential strike action. If it fails to reach an agreement with BA, the union will formally ballot its members.

Unite accused the airline of damaging staff morale after “two years of job and pay cuts”.

A spokesman for the union said: “British Airways' management now can no longer ignore the universal discontent across their own workforce, in the way they have ignored the needs of their own customers.

“BA customers know first-hand that the airline is in chaos and that service levels are suffering as a direct result of its own previous disastrous ‘fire and rehire’ policies.

“Staff are simply no longer willing to excuse, or pay the price for, poor management decisions.”

It comes as 700 BA check-in staff, represented by Unite and the GMB, prepare to go on strike in a fortnight’s time at Heathrow. Holidaymakers will face more disruption over the coming weeks as Ryanair cabin crew in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Belgium are due to strike. Staff in Italy and France will be joining them this weekend.

Ryanair pilots in Belgium will be joining them, as will pilots and cabin crew at Brussels Airlines.

Cabin crew at easyJet in Spain will also be striking for nine days in July.

On the first day of six days of action in Spain, workers held placards at El Prat Airport in Barcelona, reading: "Ryanair, low salaries made simple," and t-shirts reading: "Rights at Ryanair."

Protesters wear 'rights at Ryanair' T-shirts as they take part in the strike - Oscar Del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters wear 'rights at Ryanair' T-shirts as they take part in the strike - Oscar Del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

The BA dispute, affecting 700 members of the Unite and GMB unions, is over BA’s refusal to reinstate a 10 per cent pay rise to ground crew who had their wages docked during the pandemic. The airline is instead offering a one-off payment for this year only.

A BA spokesman said: “Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4 billion, we made an offer of a 10 per cent payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.”

The GMB accused the airline of offering its members “crumbs from the table”.

Nadine Houghton, national officer at the GMB, said: “With grim predictability, holidaymakers face massive disruption thanks to the pigheadedness of British Airways.

“Our members need to be reinstated the 10 per cent they had stolen from them last year, with full back pay and the 10 per cent bonus which other colleagues have been paid.”

The broader travel industry expressed dismay at the escalating disputes.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents independent travel agents, said: "Any potential strike action across Europe, combined with some of the other recent travel disruptions we are experiencing, is of course having an impact which is disappointing for everyone.”

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