Airport workers to strike over Christmas

Thousands of travellers face more misery this festive season with baggage handlers saying they too will strike.

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More strikes announced: Air and rail passengers facing Christmas travel misery

Credit: PA

Industrial action by thousands of transport workers is set to cause misery over the next week with strikes at airports and the ongoing chaos caused by the Southern rail dispute.

Heathrow, Gatwick, Southampton and Bournemouth could be hit.

The action includes:

2,500 British Airways Cabin Crew involved in a row over pay. They will walk out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

1,500 ground staff working for Swissport who check in and handle baggage at our key airports. The action is planed for next Friday and Saturday.

Hundreds of Southern guards and 1,000 drivers will continue industrial action causing major disruption into the New Year.

The announcement about the cabin crew strike came this evening. Both British Airways and the Unite Union have issued statements:

We have been informed tonight by Unite that it has called strike action by Mixed Fleet cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

We are appalled that Unite proposes to disrupt customers' travel plans on such special days when so many families are trying to gather together or set off on well-deserved holidays.

This calculated and heartless action is completely unnecessary and we are determined that it will fail.

We will plan to ensure all our customers travel to their destinations so that their Christmas arrangements are not ruined. We will publish more details within the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, we have also approached the conciliation service ACAS to seek their assistance in reaching an outcome that would avoid any possibility of disruption.

– British Airways

Our members have overwhelmingly voted for strike action because British Airways’ pay rates are indefensible and the crew are at breaking point. The airline’s boss Willie Walsh has pocketed €8.8 million and the parent company IAG reported profits of €1.4 billion.

Mixed fleet crew earn just over the minimum wage and below the national average. Significant numbers of crew are taking on second jobs, many go to work unfit to fly because they can’t afford to be sick. British Airways bosses need to wake up to the anger and the injustice here.

Not only are the pay rates indefensible but in aviation, low pay is a safety issue. 30 per cent of the Mixed Fleet crew have been with the company for just under a year. Crew simply can’t afford to stay. Inexperience, fatigue, and the fact that BA recently cut the length of crew training courses means Unite is genuinely concerned about the potential repercussions.

We urge British Airways to avoid this dispute and do the right thing by both the frontline staff and the travelling public, by engaging with Unite to negotiate a genuinely meaningful way forward.”

– Matt Smith, Unite regional officer

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