Gatwick Airport baggage handlers and check-in staff will stage eight days of strikes from later this month in a dispute over pay.
The announcement comes after the Unite members had backed walking out in a ballot.
Unite said workers will strike for four days beginning on Friday 28 July ending on Tuesday 1 August, then a further four days from Friday 4 August until Tuesday 8 August.
A Gatwick Airport spokesperson told City A.M.: “We are aware of the recent ballot result and will support our airlines with their contingency plans to ensure that flights operate as scheduled.”
It added that individual airlines hold contracts for ground handling firms at the airport, not Gatwick itself.
The airlines affected are British Airways, Easyjet, Ryanair, TUI, Westjet and Wizz. All have been approached for comment.
In a statement to City A.M., the Unite Union said 950 workers set to strike are employed by four firms: ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS and DHL Services Ltd, which conduct outsourced operations for major airlines.
Warning about inevitable cancellations, Unite added that it is holding further ballots, closing 31 July, for DHL Gatwick Direct, Red Handling and Wilson James workers, which could bring further disruption.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at Gatwick Airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance.”
“As part of Unite’s unyielding focus on the jobs, pay and condition of its members the union has drawn a line in the sand and is committed to eradicating the scourge of low pay at the airport.”
The past 18 months have been dominated by industrial action, with walk-outs from rail and train workers, postal staff, NHS workers and civil servants.
There are multiple days of strikes from London Underground staff later in July also, which risks bringing the capital to a grinding halt.
According to data firm Cirium, on the days of the new Gatwick strike, a total of 4,410 flights are scheduled to depart Britain’s second largest airport – equating to over 840,000 seats. There are due to be 441 daily departures.
The UK’s flagship carrier British Airways reacted t the news of a strike, saying: “Our ground handling agent at Gatwick, GGS, is surprised by Unite’s announcement, given the constructive conversations they’ve had this week.”
It is continuing to work with the union to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency so as not to disrupt our customers’ travel plans.”
EasyJet responded to City A.M. saying: “We are extremely disappointed to hear of the proposed industrial action by Unite ground handlers at London Gatwick Airport on the weekends of Friday 28 July and Friday 4 August.
“More talks between our ground handler DHL and Unite are taking place early next week to try and resolve the issue and we urge them to reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, a Wizz Air spokesperson said: “We are in touch with our ground handling partners and are doing everything within our control to limit disruptions for passengers.”
We will reach out to any affected passengers and let them know their options as soon as we have an update.”