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Heathrow Strike Called Off after Union Vote Accepts Deal

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DALLAS – A proposed strike at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) by British Airways (BA) workers was called off after negotiations led to an 8% pay hike. Also agreed to were a one-off bonus and the reinstatement of shift pay. The offer was accepted by 75% of the union members.

Members of Unite and the GMB union, about 700 workers, mostly check-in staff, were set to strike over the 10% pay reduction put in place during the pandemic. Earlier this summer, union members voted to strike after that cut was not reinstated.

As airlines have had difficulty ramping up in the post-pandemic travel era, Heathrow has endured high passenger volume and long check-in queues this summer. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled in the UK this summer leaving passengers frustrated, if not outraged. A strike would have led to additional disruptions and flight cancellations.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a great result for our check-in members at British Airways. “By standing together, they have forced a corporate giant like BA to do the right thing and restore levels of pay slashed in the pandemic.”

Unite said the offer, which will be paid in several stages, is worth 13%. A spokesman for BA said the company was “delighted with this positive news.”

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, added, “No one wanted a summer strike at Heathrow, but our members had to fight for what was right. Now, these mainly women workers have won pay improvements for themselves—as well as forcing BA to make this offer to the rest of their staff too.”

AW_Julian-Schopfer-1-1024x683.jpgPhoto: Julian Schöpfer/Airways

Refueling Workers

On the airfield, refueling workers, who this week were due to strike at the largest of the six international airports serving London, have also reached a pay deal.

Fifty workers from Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) were ready for a three-day walkout – from Thursday to Sunday – over a disagreement about pay. That strike was suspended Wednesday as talks produced an offer of a 12.5% increase in pay, weekend overtime pay, and a £2,500 bonus.

Featured image: Alberto Cucini/Airways

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