Cargo workers at British Airways have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in the bitter dispute over the company’s plans to fire and rehire its entire workforce and re-employ them on vastly inferior terms and conditions.
The workforce, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading aviation union, recorded a 98 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action. The union represents in the region of 850 members in BA’s cargo handling business.
Despite BA management’s bullying and its attempts to inflict changes by firing and rehiring its workforce, Unite will delay immediately announcing strike dates, in order to give the company a final opportunity to reach a fair resolution and agree changes with its workers.
BA is attempting to force the cargo workers to accept new contracts which will result in many of them experiencing pay cuts of between 20-25 per cent, with the entire workforce experiencing significant reductions to its terms and conditions.
Unite has reached agreement with British Airways in all the other sections of the company where it represents workers, to mitigate its proposals to slash workers’ wages, but has been unable to do so for the cargo workers due to the continued intransigence of management.
Perversely, while the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a huge reduction in aircraft passengers, the demand for cargo services has remained largely unaffected.
The BA cargo workers have played a crucial role during both lockdowns in helping to ensure that vital supplies are delivered to the UK.
With the ending of the Brexit transition period on 31 December likely to result in substantial delays at UK ports, airline cargo services will play an essential role in ensuring that perishable goods are not delayed in arriving in the UK.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, “Unite members have stood up to the industrial aggression of British Airways and have overwhelmingly voted for strike action.
“The huge yes vote by cargo workers must act as a final wake up call to British Airways,” he added.
“Unite is delaying the announcement of strike dates to allow Shaun Doyle, British Airways’ new chief executive, to do the right thing,” Beckett went on to say. “He needs to withdraw the threats of firing and rehiring its cargo workers and hammer out a fair deal for this loyal workforce.
“If British Airways fails to grasp this opportunity for peace then Unite will swiftly move to strike action which will cause huge unnecessary disruption to British Airways cargo deliveries.”
By Barckley Sumner