American Airlines Heathrow facing strikes

Highly skilled engineers balloted over industrial action after rejecting ‘appalling’ pay offer

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More than 50 aircraft maintenance technicians and crew chiefs, responsible for the aircraft that make 23 daily American Airline Heathrow departures, are angry over a three year pay offer.

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 and rising.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “American Airlines’ pay offer is appalling. It amounts to a significant real terms year by year wage cut. Our members will no longer accept what are 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 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 Airline’s 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.

The ballot for strike action opens on September 13 and closes September 30.

Unite Regional Officer Joe McGowan added, “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.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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