DALLAS – British Airways (BA) check-in and ground crew at London Heathrow (LHR) have voted to strike, pending further negotiations with BA management over a disputed pay cut of 10%.
The dispute first arose when BA’s management’s salary was reinstated to its pre-pandemic levels, receiving the 10% they had lost as a cost-saving measure during the global health crisis. The lower levels of BA, the ground and check-in staff, saw this as unjustifiable considering they aren’t receiving a reinstated salary and are still on only 90% of pre-pandemic pay.
So far, negotiations between the respective GMB and Unite unions and BA have been largely fruitless. British Airways reportedly offered a one-off “bonus” of 10% to its employees. However, this was starkly rejected, citing that it would only be a one-off payment rather than a full reinstatement of their pay and that it would remove their ability to negotiate further.
The staff in question have even disputed the phrase “pay rise,” citing that they weren’t being paid the amount they’re negotiating for, and their pay has instead been cut from what they believe they’re due.
Summer of Chaos
Should negotiations continue to be fruitless, the intended strike would be scheduled for the busy summer period and intended to cause maximum disruption to travel, aiming to cause “a grueling summer of chaos,” according to Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer. The unions, however, emphasize that it’s the airline’s management that is to blame for this proposed disruption, and not them.
BA’s airport staff are just reaching the end of many weeks of travel disruption in the U.K. owing to a shortage of staff, and are consequently facing “verbal and physical abuse” by disgruntled passengers who were on the receiving end of this disruption.
This, compounded with a recent IT failure at BA that caused further disruption, does not put the airline’s management in the strongest of positions against its employees.
Of an 81% turnout, 95% voted in favor of striking.
This is a developing story.
Featured image: LHR/BA. Photo: Ferrovial