Passengers taking British Airways flights from Gatwick airport face not being supplied with food or drink on flights this spring if HGV drivers take industrial action, in a dispute over pay.
The HGV drivers, over 50 of who are members of Unite, are employed by Alpha Flight UK Limited, which is BA’s sole supplier of inflight food at Gatwick airport.
The dispute is a result of Alpha Flight UK, reneging on an agreement with Unite, to introduce a market rate alignment pay allowance for the HGV drivers, who are currently paid below the going rate.
The industrial action ballot opens today (February 14) and will close on Thursday, February 28. If, as expected, the drivers vote in favour of industrial action then the dispute could begin by mid-March and affect the Easter getaway.
If drivers do take industrial action then Alpha Flight UK will not be able to transport food from its on-site warehouse. The tight security airside at Gatwick precludes alternative options.
Unite has already undertaken a consultative ballot of the drivers which produced a 100 per cent vote in favour of industrial action.
“Our members have already strongly indicated that they are fully prepared to take industrial action and the formal ballot is expected to confirm this,” said Unite regional officer Jamie Major.
“This dispute is directly a result of Alpha Flight reneging on its promises to pay its HGV drivers a fair market rate for the job,” he added.
“If industrial action takes place then it will result in all British Airways’ flights from Gatwick not having food and drink supplies on board. While this will impact on the comfort of passengers it must be understood this is directly a result of the actions of Alpha Flight.
“If industrial action is to be avoided than Alpha Flight must offer its drivers a fair rate of pay.”