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British Airways workers call off Heathrow strike after accepting 8% pay increase

July 22, 2022
4 min read
British Airways workers call off Heathrow strike after accepting 8% pay increase
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Hundreds of British Airways staff voted today in favor of an increased pay offer from the airline, averting a strike action at London Heathrow airport. The strike, which had been expected later this month, had threatened to cripple operations for the struggling airline.

The new deal means workers will receive an 8% pay raise, as well as a one-off bonus and the return of extra pay for irregular shifts, which amounts to a 13% compensation increase this year, according to a representative of one of the affected unions, Unite.

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Speaking of the new deal, the head of the second affected union, GMB national officer Nadine Houghton, said it was a long time coming.

“No one wanted a summer strike at Heathrow, but our members had to fight for what was right," she said.

“Now these mainly women workers have won pay improvements for themselves – as well as forcing BA to make this offer to the rest of [its] staff too,” she added.

Echoing Houghton's sentiment, Sharon Graham, the general secretary Unite, 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.”

Related: Travel is back, and so are the crowds. How early do you need to get to the airport?

Over 700 BA workers with the Unite and GMB unions were set to strike after airline executives refused to backtrack on a 10% pay cut for low-level staff made during the pandemic. There was also apparently the threat of "fire and rehire" if staff refused the pay cut, meaning that workers could have been laid off and then given the opportunity to return to their jobs with worse pay, benefits — or both.

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The unions' acceptance of BA's improved deal will avoid any walkouts this month — which has to be sweet relief for the U.K.’s most iconic airline.

Passengers wait at check-in desks in the departures hall in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in 2021. (Photo by Jason Alden/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Having already announced plans to cut 10,300 flights across Europe between July and October following thousands of others already cut this year, the last thing BA executives needed was a strike by check-in staff at its U.K. base this July.

In what’s being called the "summer of the discontent," labor actions are on the rise – particularly across the travel sector, which saw a raft of pay freezes and job cuts during the pandemic. Union members are hitting back, and given the mountain of issues already threatening the big firms, airlines are listening.

A British Airways operated Airbus A747 passenger jet at Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

Not all airlines are playing hardball with staff, however. Jet2, which (perhaps not coincidentally) is one of the most reliable airlines in operation at British airports right now, recently announced it would be awarding staff an 8% salary hike in addition to a one-off, $1,204.05 payment to help with the current cost-of-living crisis.

The British Airways news also comes as Heathrow executives themselves are attempting to streamline operations. A controversial passenger cap that will affect over a quarter of a million flyers has now been extended until the end of October.

Related: Heathrow’s controversial passenger cap will now last until October

If you’re worried about other labor actions potentially putting a damper on your summer travel plans, keep up to date with the latest on the labor union situation in the travel industry here.

Featured image by Featured photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images.
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