By ILARIA GRASSO MACOLA, cityam
British Airways (BA) workers are set to join the wave of industrial action that is bringing the country to a standstill after members of the unions GMB and Unite have voted in favour of strike action.
The unions announced the results this afternoon, with GMB’s national officer Nadine Houghton saying 95 per cent of those balloted vote in favour of striking.
BA’s baggage handlers and check in staff will walk out next month, as they need to give the airline two weeks’ notice before going on strike.
Nevertheless it is understood that the unions will target the third or fourth weekend of July, to maximise disruption.
Closed this afternoon, the vote was launched on 7 June after the unions petitioned to have a 10 per cent wage increase reinstated after it was cut during the pandemic.
“What did BA think was going to happen?” Houghton added. “It’s not too late to save the summer holidays – other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed, do the same for ground and check in staff and this industrial action can be nipped in the bid.”
Commenting on the announcement, Which? travel editor Rory Boland called on the airline to “avoid a raft of hugely disruptive last-minute cancellations.”
“Strikes by airline staff are within the airline’s control because it is negotiating with its staff, so if your flight is delayed or cancelled because of this then you’ll likely be entitled to compensation under Denied Boarding Regulations,” he said.
Despite being “extremely disappointed,” the carrier said it would continue to try and find a solution.
Heathrow, on the other hand, reassured passengers saying that the strike’s impact would not be airport wide and that it was supporting BA “to minimise any potential disruption for passengers.”
But if the strike were to go ahead, it is likely to bear some impact on the hub’s operations.
As it raised its passenger number forecast for the year to 54.4 million, Heathrow
said it was continuing to work alongside airlines and ground handlers to match supply and demand levels.
“While we rebuild capacity from the pandemic, resources remain tight, in line with other airports in the UK and Europe,” the airport said in a statement.
Heathrow is one of many airports across both the UK and EU to have experienced disruption because of a combination of labour shortages and soaring levels of demand.
On Monday it was forced to ask airlines operating from terminal 2 and 3 to cut 10 per cent of flights after on Friday it reported significant luggage delays.