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With European airports already struggling with the increased demand in travel and with UK airports currently being hit particularly hard, it looks like things may get a lot worse for some passengers once the summer holidays are upon us.
The BBC has reported that 700 British Airways workers represented by the UNITE and GMB unions have voted for strike action this summer.
The workers involved are primarily check-in staff and ground crew and the unions say that the strike is being called due to a 10% pay cut imposed during the dark days of lockdowns that has not been reversed now that travel has picked up.
In turn, British Airways has said that it offered these employees a “10% payment for this year which was rejected”.
I guess the first thing to note is that a 10% uplift in pay following a 10% cut doesn’t put the employees back to where they were before the pandemic so when you also consider that UK inflation is now at over 9%, it’s not hard to see why these employees are less than happy.
The second thing to note is that while British Airways appears to be suggesting that it should be able to cover any strike by bringing in managers to take the place of the disgruntled employees, significant disruptions will not be avoided.
BA is already woefully short of staff to cover its schedules (especially its flights out of Heathrow) so if the proposed strike goes ahead and 700 workers down tools and walk out, the airline is going to have a problem.
There’s still the possibility that between now and the peak of the summer season (when I assume, the strike will be called) some kind of agreement can be reached and chaos can be averted.
Unfortunately, British Airway management doesn’t have a particularly good track record when it comes to dealing with industrial disputes so the odds would suggest that as things stand, a walkout is likely.