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 as 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.”
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 it would 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.
Downing Street called on the parties to work together and find a settlement, as the strike would add to the ongoing “misery” suffered by passengers at airports.
“The Department for Transport will obviously work closely to look at what contingency measures BA could put in place and we expect BA to put in place contingency measures to ensure that as little disruption is caused, and that where there is disruption that passengers can be refunded,” they added.