(CMR) British Airways staff at London's Heathrow airport have voted in favor of a strike for better pay, trade union GMB announced Thursday. This strike threatens to disrupt Britain's busiest airport during an already chaotic summer for air travelers.
Unions representing the workers say demands for a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic to be rolled back have not been met. According to BBC News, 700 workers are set to strike during the summer holidays, when demand from travelers is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels.
Some 500 Unite members recorded a 94.7% vote in favor of industrial action, while 95% of GMB members backed the walkouts. The strike dates will be confirmed in the coming days.
`The proposed action relates to fewer than 50% of British Airways staff based at Heathrow in customer-facing roles only, and there are other customer service workers who have not been balloted, BBC reported. If the strikes go ahead, BA, which operates from terminals three and five at Heathrow, has plans to cover staff, including managers potentially dealing with check-ins. However, disruptions are still expected with cancellations daily.
BA said it was disappointed with the result of the ballot, adding that it was committed to finding a solution in talks with unions.
“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4bn, we made an offer of a 10% payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues,” a statement from the airline said.
BBC reported that a 10% pay rise has been accepted by other parts of BA's business, including ground operations, engineering, and cabin crew workers, who Unite and GMB also represent.
In recent weeks, tens of thousands of passengers have been hit by airport disruption and flight cancellations. Hundreds of flights across the UK were canceled during the week of the Platinum Jubilee and school half-term holidays.
Several factors have caused the disruption, but staff shortages have left the aviation industry struggling to cope with resurgent demand for overseas travel, BBC stated.