MIAMI – British Airways (BA) cargo workers plan to strike for nine days beginning on December 25, according to the labor union Unite. The two parties had been previously engaged in negotiations earlier this month before talks broke down. The workers are largely unsettled over the BA “fire and rehire plan”, which will create pay cuts of up to 24 percent.

“Once again the company have decided to resurrect its ‘fire and rehire’ policies and target a group of employees who have continued to work throughout the pandemic bringing much need supplies to the UK and revenue to BA”, said Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett. “As a result Unite members have no option but to go ahead with the planned strike action.”

The planned strike will create additional delays to cargo entering the UK. Earlier this week, BA had asked customers to unitize freight due to congestion at London-Heathrow (LHR).

Featured Image: British Airways Cargo 747-87UF, leased from Global Supply Systems. PHOTO: Kiefer/Wikimedia

Details of the Strike

Over 840 BA Cargo employees had voted on strike action, with 98% voting “yes”. Despite operating consistently throughout the pandemic, and two national lockdowns, the workers are upset that BA has chosen to cut their wages. Unite has also cited declining work conditions as a reason for the strike.

In a statement, BA said “Our offer would see almost half of cargo workers’ salaries rise, with no-one else taking more than a 10% pay cut”. However, the two sides could not come to an agreement. BA is urging Unite reenter to negotiations and prevent the potential delay of critical supplies. However, the strike will be happening unless BA makes an updated offer.

“Even with strike action starting in two days, there is still time for BA to avoid the disruption it is facing by making an acceptable offer to our members”, said Beckett.

Unite has said that they will not be hosting a picket line, citing health and safety concerns due to COVID-19.

Featured Image: British Airways Cargo 747-87UF, leased from Global Supply Systems. PHOTO: FinlayCox143/Wikimedia