LONDON – United Airlines’ transatlantic operations are at risk of disruption as employees based at Heathrow Airport begin voting on industrial action.
The ballot for voting is open and will close on October 11, with the main argument being that the proposed five percent increase this year and four percent in 2023 in pay is not enough.
Unite the Union argues that the increase needs to be larger due to the airline reporting a quarterly profit of $329 million.
They also argue that the increases need to go above the RPI inflation of 12.3%, which is the current rate in the UK at present and is set to continue rising as we progress into the Winter.
Unite’s General Secretary Sharon Graham said the following on the situation:
“United Airlines is offering workers a pay cut when it can afford to pay its staff fairly. To make matters worse, bosses want to tear up a long-standing agreement barring the use of outsourced workers.”
“These are red lines the workers won’t cross, so the airline faces the prospect of steadfast industrial action. Unite members have their union’s complete backing to protect their pay, terms, and conditions.”
The Regional Officer for Unite, Clare Keogh, also added to Graham’s statement:
“Unite has a long-standing commitment from United Airlines to prioritize direct employment. Now management wants to open the floodgates to agency and outsourced labor.”
“Our members want fair pay, and they won’t allow a race to the bottom. The workforce feels they have no other choice except to begin an industrial action ballot. It’s time for United Airlines to think again.”
American Airlines Facing The Same Challenges…
American Airlines is also facing the same challenge at Heathrow Airport, with engineers based at the airport balloting for industrial action back on September 7.
It is understood that the 50 maintenance technicians and crew chiefs will go on strike over the proposed offer from American, which will see a rise of 5.3% for technicians and 3.8% for crew chiefs.
In the second year, all workers would receive a lump sum cash payment, while in the third year, a pay freeze would be implemented.
At the time, Graham said the following on this:
“American Airlines’ pay offer is appalling. It amounts to a significant real term year-by-year wage cut.”
“Our members will no longer accept what cuts in real wages as the cost of living crisis spirals. Unite will defend our American Airlines members’ jobs, pay, and conditions, and they have Unite’s unwavering support as they stand up for a fair pay rise.”
The regional officer, Joe McGowan also added to this:
“Any disruption caused to American Airlines’ Heathrow operations will be the airline’s own fault for putting forward such an unacceptable offer.”
“These are highly skilled and committed workers, yet American Airlines has offered them what is, in effect, a three-year pay cut. It needs to go back to the drawing board and table a realistic proposal on pay.”
The results of this ballot will be revealed on September 30. It is going to be interesting to see what the votes will be like from each airline and whether we can see some potential disruption in the Winter schedule.