BA strike 2022: will British Airways staff at Heathrow strike, are dates confirmed, and pay dispute explained

The union claimed thousands of experienced staff had been dismissed without being replaced

It could be a summer of discontent for British Airways after cabin crew and ground staff backed industrial action in a dispute over pay just last week.

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Trade union Unite, which represents 16,000 workers at the airline, reportedly won a 97% majority in a ballot for potential industrial action after claiming BA went back on a pay deal.

BA is said to believe the threat of industrial action is based on a misunderstanding which they believe was rectified immediately.

The airline has announced it will cut 10,300 short-haul flights until the end of October, with long-haul travel unaffected.

The news comes after BA announced on Tuesday (5 July) that it is cancelling around 650 flights from Heathrow and Gatwick in the coming weeks, affecting more than 100,000 passengers.

Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain, Faro in Portugal, and Athens in Greece are expected to be among the destinations affected.

What has the union said?

The Telegraph has reported that Unite is claiming that the carrier has restored management pay to pre-pandemic levels but refused to ease a 10% pay cut imposed on staff during Covid.

The union also claimed thousands of experienced staff had been dismissed without being replaced, leading to a shortage of check-in personnel, loaders, baggage handlers and cabin crew.

Unite reportedly said: “Two years of job and pay cuts mean BA customers and staff are unfortunately paying the price through sky high ticket prices, rock bottom service levels and non-existent morale.

“Staff are simply no longer willing to excuse or pay the price for poor management decisions.”

The union is understood to have thought BA breached the deal by awarding ground handlers a pay rise, on top of 5% for all staff, when it had accepted any increase would be paid to all employees.

Will there be strike action over the summer?

The union’s ballot was consultative, asking staff if they would support industrial action over the breach of a ‘good faith’ clause in a pay agreement with the airline.

Some 97.3% voted in favour, the newspaper disclosed.

No fewer than 700 BA staff at Heathrow are set to walkout this summer, due to a 10% pay cut imposed during the Covid pandemic, which is expected to cause some disruption for customers.

BA has plans to cover the strike should it go ahead, with managers likely to deal with check-ins.

What has British Airways said?

BA is said to believe the threat of industrial action is based on a misunderstanding which was rectified immediately.

The carrier had thought there was a previous pay increase that ground handlers had missed, made the offer to compensate them, then realised it was in error.

A BA spokesperson said previously: “This isn’t a ballot for industrial action, and while not surprising given the issues across the transport sector, it’s disappointing.

“After a deeply difficult two years which saw the business lose more than £4 billion, we still offered payment to our colleagues for this year.”

The spokesperson added: “We remain committed to open and honest talks with our trade unions about their concerns.”

Are other airlines threatened with staff striking?

The Ryanair strike began last Thursday (30 June) and caused the airline to cancel 10 flights in Spain on Saturday (2 July).

Ryanair cabin crew will strike on 12-15, 18-21 and 25-28 July at 10 airports across Spain, the USO and SICTPLA unions have confirmed.

They are striking over pay and working conditions.

In a statement on Saturday, Ryanair said it expected “minimal (if any) disruption to its flight schedules in July as a result of minor and poorly- supported Spanish labour strikes”.

EasyJet workers are staging three sets of three-day strikes in July.

The first took has already took place, with two more scheduled for 15-17 July and 29-31 July.

Some 450 workers based at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca will walk out.

Easyjet has said it plans to operate its full schedule of flights, but admitted there could be some disruption to its programme.