British Airways staff at London's Heathrow vote to strike

The move threatens to disrupt Britain's busiest airport during an already chaotic summer for air travellers. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - British Airways staff at London's Heathrow airport voted on Thursday (June 23) in favour of a strike for better pay, trade union GMB said, in a move that threatens to disrupt Britain's busiest airport during an already chaotic summer for air travellers.

GMB said 95 per cent of those British Airways (BA) staff at Heathrow airport who voted chose to carry out a strike after BA failed to meet their demands for a 10 per cent pay cut imposed during the pandemic to be rolled back. Around 700 workers had been balloted, of which 80 per cent voted.

Dates for the strike are likely to be during the peak summer holiday period, GMB said. Workers must give two weeks’ notice to BA before carrying out any strike.

Air passengers across Europe have already faced delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights in recent weeks as airports struggle to cope with a shortage of trained staff and strong post-pandemic demand.

Any strike by Heathrow staff is likely to add to the pressure.

“BA have tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10 per cent one off bonus payment, but this doesn’t cut the mustard,” GMB National Officer Nadine Houghton said in a statement.

“GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with the travel chaos caused by staff shortages and IT failures.”

British Airways said it was "extremely disappointed" following the vote. 

“We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team.” 

Meanwhile, demand for air travel showed little sign of slowing as Heathrow separately on Thursday raised its forecast for annual passenger numbers to 54.4 million from 53 million previously.

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