Thursday 23 June 2022 03:02 PM Now Heathrow staff go on strike: BA staff vote to walk-out during summer ... trends now
It comes as millions of hard-working men and women have been forced to work-from-home this week after RMT union barons plunged Britain into the biggest rail strike in 30 years.
Only 20 per cent of trains are operating today after two days of disruptions, delays and cancellations affecting 13 mainline operators and London Underground network, creating lockdown-like scenes of empty rail stations in the capital on Tuesday.
Members taking part in the GMB ballot began voting on June 7 for possible strike action later this year. The ballot closes later today, with results also expected to be announced today. The union is expected to vote in favour of the strike. Meanwhile the Unite ballot, which also began on June 7, is set to close on Monday.
Both unions say the strikes are over a 10 per cent cut in pay imposed on staff during the pandemic, when international travel was essentially grounded due to Covid.
BA say they have offered staff a 10 per cent 'payment'. But union chiefs say the offer is a 'one-off' and its members want the full salary returned.
It comes amid the continuing chaos which has gripped the airline sector since March - and this week's strikes by the RMT which have crippled the country's railways and impacted on journeys to and from the UK's airports.
Meanwhile, huge snaking queues have been seen at Manchester Airport and at Heathrow again today. And a huge 'carpet' of luggage has built up outside Heathrow Terminal 2 following a 'technical glitch' last Friday. Today some travellers took to social media to claim that they had not been reunited with their luggage in 'seven days'.
The chaos is due to many airlines or travel firms sacking off large numbers of staff during the pandemic, and then struggling to adequately recruit in time for the restart of international travel earlier this year.
Experts have warned that the chaos could roll into the summer, and potentially even later this year. But now fresh chaos could be on the horizon, with unions warning they could launch strike action during the busy school holidays.
Today GMB's National Officer, Nadine Houghton, who ran as a Labour candidate in 2019, was asked if the strikes could be timed during the school holidays.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Look, we still need to meet with the strike committee, we need to review where we are in terms of dates but yes absolutely, this could impact on the summer holidays, but the blame for this must be squarely put at the door of BA.'
The warning of fresh airport chaos comes as:Long queues were seen at Manchester and Heathrow Airport today due to the ongoing post-pandemic staffing issues; The RMT launched its second day of strikes following Tuesday's industrial action, which saw tens of thousands of Network Rail and station staff walk-out; The strike is impacting on rail services up and down the UK, though it is not expected to be as disruptive in London as it was on Tuesday when TfL staff were also on strike; Rail services to and from airports, including the Heathrow Express and the Stansted Express, are disrupted due to today's RMT strike; Meanwhile, the summer of discontent looks set to grown National Education Union (NEU) last night vowing to consult its members in the autumn and 'strongly encouraging them' to back industrial action if the government does not respond to its concerns over high workloads and pay in the next few months; And the CWU, which represents postal workers, could be among next group of workers to strike for higher pay, after their trade union moved to ballot them over a possible walkout.
Huge snaking queues have been seen at Manchester Airport again today. The airport has been hit with major disruption in recent months
Social media users also shared video of long queues at Heathrow today. One wrote: 'Joining the inevitable chorus of travellers tweeting about, you guessed it, Heathrow queues. This is the queue just to get to security. The staff are being brilliant, though.'
A huge 'carpet' of luggage (pictured) has built up outside Heathrow Terminal 2 following a 'technical glitch' last Friday. Today some travellers took to social media to claim that they had not had their bag returned in 'seven days'
It comes amid the continuing chaos which has gripped the airline sector since March - and this week's strikes by the RMT which have crippled the country's railways. Pictured: Travellers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London on Wednesday
People face travelling disruption and long queues at airports amid the industry's ongoing staffing crisis. After two years of pandemic restrictions, travel demand is back with a vengeance but airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up. Pictured: Travellers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London, Wednesday
'Unfortunately our members find themselves in the middle of a dispute that has been nearly three years in the making when when British Airways chose to use fire and rehire very opportunistically during the pandemic to cut our members pay and conditions at a time they were unable to fight back and defend themselves.
'All our members are asking for, and these are primarily low paid, working women, working on the front line of the aviation crisis, facing verbal and in some cases physical abuse, all they are asking for is the 10 per cent back that they have robbed from them during the pandemic.
'They are not asking for a pay rise, they are not asking for a penny more, they are just asking for the money back that they've had taken from them.'
Today GMB's National Officer, Nadine Houghton (pictured), who ran as a Labour candidate in 2019, was asked if the strikes could be timed during the school holidays. She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Look, we still need to meet with the strike committee, we need to review where we are in terms of dates but yes absolutely, this could impact on the summer holidays, but the blame for this must be squarely put at the door of BA.'
BA, in response, said following the lifting of Covid travel restrictions staff were offered a 10 per cent payment for this year which was rejected.
However, Ms Houghton replied: 'Unfortunately that is just not accurate. What they were offered was a 10 per cent one-off bonus payment and what are members are actually fighting for is the 10 per cent of consolidated pay which obviously goes on their pension, it is what they see year on year in any further pay increases - it is the pay they cut from them during the pandemic.
'You have to remember these workers are on the front line of the aviation crisis and if BA want to return to profitability, if they want to be a successful airline, they need to get their staff on board, they need to rebuild the trust that they so deeply damaged as a result of their actions during the pandemic.
'Yes there has been financial issues with the airline, obviously they have been hit by the pandemic. They've also been saddled with a huge amount of debt by their parent company and they were also very profitable before the pandemic and were able to pay out £1.6bn in dividends in the pandemic.'
Members began voting in the ballot on June 7. The ballot closes later, with results also expected to be announced today. No date has yet been set for strike action.
It comes as, separately, Unite is continuing to ballot its members over potential industrial action for BA check-in staff at Heathrow.
The union claims BA has restored management pay to pre-crisis levels. But it says the airline is refusing to reverse a 10 per cent cut imposed on blue collar workers during the pandemic.
Some 500 staff will be balloted between June 7 and June 27. Speaking earlier this month, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: 'A strike by our members will make an immediate impact on the service to customers so I urge BA to get a grip and restore these workers' pay immediately.
'British Airways used the cover of Covid to brutally cut members' pay. BA has now reversed the pay cuts imposed on management but refuses to do this for our members. This is disgraceful. Unite will not allow our members to be treated as a second-class workforce.'
A spokesperson for BA told MailOnline: 'After a deeply difficult two years which saw the business lose more than four billion pounds, these colleagues were offered a 10 per cent payment for this year which was rejected.
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'We remain fully committed to talks with our trade unions about their concerns and we hope that together we can find a way to reach an agreement in the best interests of our people and our customers.'
It comes as video from Manchester Airport shows long queues snaking around one of the terminal today.
The video was posted by golfer James Robinson. Sharing a video showing the queues, the PGA golfer and social media star said: 'Good to see Terminal 2 is coping well…'.
Social media users also shared video of long queues at Heathrow today: One wrote: 'Joining the inevitable chorus of travellers tweeting about, you guessed it, Heathrow queues. This is the queue just to get to security. The staff are being brilliant, though.'
Meanwhile, baggage chaos continues at Heathrow today. A huge 'carpet' of baggage built up outside Terminal 2 since it was hit by a 'technical glitch' last Friday.
The airport says that airlines, and not the airport, are responsible for baggage and has apologised to inconvenienced passengers.
Today social media users took to Twitter to complain that they had yet to receive their bag six days after flying into Heathrow.
One social media user wrote: 'Hi Heathrow. It's been 6th day now since you lost my baggage. I need details, who is tracking my lost two bags and where are they now? And when will I get them back?'
Another wrote: 'Still waiting for my four bags.