British Airways travellers face 'summer holiday chaos' as Heathrow workers vote on strike action

British Airways travellers could face summer holiday travel chaos as Heathrow workers vote on strike action, unions say.

Hundreds of GMB and Unite members working as Heathrow check-in staff and ground staff voted in favour of holding a formal industrial action ballot. 

The strike ballot begins today (7 June) and ends on 23 June. Any industrial action will take place during the summer holiday period. 

The unions say that Heathrow workers are 'furious' because a 10% pay cut imposed on them during the pandemic has not been reinstated - despite bosses having their pre-covid pay rates reinstated. 

British Airways has described the ballot as 'extremely disappointing.' Credit: PA

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: "These workers are claiming back what they had robbed from them due to BA’s callous fire and rehire during the pandemic.  

“BA forced our members into pay cuts during the pandemic, when they had little workplace power to fight back. Now our members are back at work and staff shortages are hammering the company - it is their time to claim back what is theirs. 

“These loyal workers have stood by BA through thick and thin, they have kept passengers moving when staff shortages and IT failures nearly brought the operation to a standstill.  

“They received shocking abuse from passengers, all while BA are refusing to return their 10 per cent pay cut.  

"If BA wants to avoid industrial action that will trash many people’s summer holidays, they need to do what’s right by check in staff.” 

  • Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Under the cover of Covid, British Airways used the abhorrent fire and rehire practice to slash check-in and ground handlers pay by 10 per cent.   

“In a further disgraceful move, BA has now restored the pay of managers but has kept the cut for these workers. This is why our members have voted overwhelmingly to proceed to strike action. This is about paying the rate for the job.   

“BA has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute through negotiations but it has failed to do so.  

“Our members are left with no choice but to vote for strike action this summer. 

“Unite will be giving its members its unequivocal support until this dispute is resolved.” 

In a statement, a spokesperson for BA said: "We are aware that some of our customer service colleagues will be participating in a ballot for industrial action initiated by Unite and GMB.

"Whilst not surprising given the issues across the transport sector, it's extremely disappointing.

"After a deeply difficult two years which saw the business lose more than four billion pounds, these colleagues were offered a 10% payment for this year which was rejected. 

"We remain fully committed to talks with our trade unions about their concerns and we hope that together we can find a way to reach an agreement in the best interests of our people and our customers."