British Airways check-in staff strike at Heathrow suspended after improved pay offer

Jul 7, 2022

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A planned strike by British Airways check-in staff at London Heathrow (LHR) this summer has been suspended after the airline struck a proposed pay deal with union bosses.

Over 700 BA workers with the Unite and GMB unions had been set to strike this month after execs refused to backtrack on a 10% cut on low-level staff made during the pandemic. There was also apparently the threat of ‘fire and rehire’ if staff refused the pay cut.

A one-off payment of 10% of a worker’s annual salary was recently flatly rejected by union officials.

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But now, following a full day of talks on Wednesday, it seems that bosses at British Airways have listened, offering what Unite has called a “vastly improved pay offer” to suspend any forthcoming strike plans by check-in staff. It’s believed they’ve agreed to restore the 10% cut to what it was before COVID-19 hit.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“All our members were asking for was what they were owed. British Airways finally moving on pay is long overdue,” said Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, in a statement.

“All our members — who are predominantly low-paid women — wanted was to be given back the pay cuts BA imposed on them during the pandemic, threatening them with fire and rehire if they said no.”

Related: These three airlines are less likely to cancel your flight right now

Off the breakthrough BA said it was “very pleased” to avoid industrial action. We bet. Having yesterday announced plans to cut a whopping 10,300 flights from its schedules from now until October — on top of the 3,000 it’s axed since the start of the year — it’s shaping up to be the worst summer on record for the airline.

Next up, this offer will be presented to a ballot of Unite members where it will be hoped that the pay dispute could be firmly put to bed.

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

This isn’t the only good news for airline staff today as Jet2 has revealed it will be awarding staff an 8% salary hike in addition to a one-off £1,000 payment to help with this year’s cost-of-living crisis.

Jet2’s executive chair Phillip Meeson, whose airline even ranked as the best in the U.K. for reliability in June, used the opportunity to blame airports for many of the current issues in the sector, calling most of them “woefully ill-prepared and poorly resourced for the volume of customers they could reasonably expect”.

An employee speaks with passengers at the Jet2 check-in area at London Stansted Airport, (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Heathrow will be mightily relieved to have seen BA avert a major strike, although it’s bracing itself for further strike action this summer. This includes refuelling workers for Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) — which serves over 70 airlines at the airport – who Unite yesterday said will be downing tools in solidarity over fairer pay conditions.

Related: Did easyJet break the law with last-minute cancellations?

Timed to have maximum impact, the 72-hour walkout will run from 5am on 21 July until 4.59am on July 24, which is, incidentally, around the same time that thousands of schools across the country shut for the summer holidays.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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