American Airlines engineers vote to strike

Heathrow flight disruption ahead as American Airlines engineers vote to strike after staggering 98% vote against three-year pay cut

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More than 50 aircraft maintenance technicians and crew chiefs, responsible for the aircraft that make 23 daily American Airlines’ Heathrow departures, have voted by 98 per cent to strike over pay.

Despite a strong recovery post-pandemic, the airline is proposing a three-year wage drop to the workers, who are members of Unite the union.

In the first year, technicians would receive 5.3 per cent and crew chiefs 3.8 per cent. In the second year, all workers would receive a lump sum cash payment, while in the third year a pay freeze would be implemented.

The real rate of inflation, RPI, currently stands at 12.3 per cent. American Airline’s second quarter results for 2022 show it made record revenues of £11.8 billion. Dates for the strikes will be announced in the coming days.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Amid a cost-of-living emergency, American Airlines is proposing that our members accept a three year pay cut. That is simply unacceptable. As the strength of this vote shows, our members are rock solid and ready to strike for a fair deal.

“American Airlines has boasted of its strong growth and post-pandemic rebound so let’s see that translate into a better deal for the workforce,” she added. “Our American Airlines members have Unite’s total support during these strikes.”

The workers are highly skilled and are required to be licenced by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to maintain, repair and certify for airworthiness American Airlines’ fleet.

To achieve the FAA licence qualification requires years of training, experience and a continuing commitment to keeping up to date on all the aircraft types in the fleet. The workers spend several weeks training in the United States to achieve the qualification for each aircraft type.

Unite regional officer Joe McGowan added, “American Airlines’ passengers are facing severe disruption because the company is offering a significant pay cut. American Airlines must return to the negotiation table with an offer our members can accept.”

Around 300 Unite members employed at Heathrow by fellow US airline United Airlines may also go on strike over pay, with a ballot for industrial action closing on 11 October.

By Ryan Fletcher

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