Nearly one thousand workers at London Gatwick Airport are set to take an eight-day strike action, to begin later this month.
The airport workers, who are members of UK’s Unite union, will embark on the strike action in a dispute over pay.
The workers are employed by four companies – ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS, and DHL Services Ltd.
These companies provide outsourced operations for major airlines, specializing in ground handling, baggage handling, ramp agent, dispatchers, and check-in agent roles.
The dispute revolves around the workers’ demand for fair pay, as the majority of them earn an average of under £12.00 per hour, despite the highly demanding and safety critical nature of their roles.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham expressed her dissatisfaction with the current situation, stating, “Our members at Gatwick Airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance.”
Unite has been in negotiations with the four companies since January but none of them have made offers that meet the workers’ expectations.
Duration of the strikes
The strike action will take place in two phases. Initially, the workers will strike for four days, starting from Friday, July 28, and ending on Tuesday, August 1.
Following a brief break, the strikes will resume for an additional four days, starting from Friday, August 4, and ending on Tuesday, August 8.
The exact timing of each strike varies depending on the individual company’s shift patterns but all strikes will begin in the early hours of the morning on the 28 July and 4 August and end in the early hours of the morning on 1 and 8 August.
The airlines that are likely to be affected by the proposed strike action include British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, TUI, Westjet and Wizz Air.
Cirium: Impact of new Gatwick strike
The aviation analytics firm Cirium has revealed the number of scheduled departures from Britain’s second busiest airport during the proposed strike period.
On the days of the new Gatwick strike, a total of 4,410 flights are scheduled to depart Britain’s second largest airport – equating to over 840,000 seats
During the strike period, Gatwick Airport is projected to see an average of 441 daily departures, with easyJet being the biggest airline, followed by British Airways, TUI, Vueling and Ryanair.
Potential for further strike action
In addition to the four companies where an industrial action mandate has already been secured, Unite is also conducting a ballot among its members at DHL Gatwick Direct, Red Handling, and Wilson James.
All three ballots will close on Monday 31 July, and if workers vote for industrial action, the strikes in these companies could begin by the middle of next month.
Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell emphasized that the strikes are a result of the companies’ own decisions, stating:
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe delays, disruption, and cancellations across Gatwick’s operations, but this dispute is entirely of the companies’ own making. They have had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer to our members, but have chosen not to do so.”
Related Gatwick Airport news
In other related news, security services workers employed by ICTS at Gatwick Airport have secured a 16 per cent pay increase and other benefits, this week.
The security workers, who are also Unite union members, were preparing to ballot for industrial action but following further negotiations the employer made an improved offer, which was balloted on and accepted by the workers.
Speaking on this matter, Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: “This pay deal serves as an important example to other employers at Gatwick airport in terms of what is both necessary and reasonable.”
“ICTS management narrowly avoided industrial action by coming to the negotiating table and committing to a pay deal that was acceptable to members.”
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