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Holidaymakers face ‘mass disruption’ as airport employees vote for strike

Britain is braced for a summer time of “massive disruption” after British Airways employees voted in favour of strike motion on the identical day that railways had been all however shut down by industrial motion.

Ground employees on the service’s Heathrow hub overwhelmingly backed a walkout of their combat to reverse pay cuts imposed in the course of the Covid pandemic.

Up to 1,000 employees shall be concerned within the strike, which the GMB Union stated was “likely to be during the peak summer holiday period”.

“Holidaymakers face massive disruption thanks to the pig-headedness of British Airways,” it stated.

Downing Street stated additional strikes will “only add to the misery being faced by passengers at airports”. A spokesman promised “to look at what contingency measures BA could put in place” to get across the motion.

It comes as passengers confronted a second full day of strikes by transport employees, whereas Britain’s greatest schooling union, the National Education Union (NEU), and junior medical doctors have additionally warned they could pursue industrial motion later this yr or subsequent if the federal government fails to fulfill calls for for improved pay and circumstances.

Ministers and enterprise leaders are actually weighing the potential fallout from a summer time of discontent if employees throughout private and non-private companies strike and win higher pay affords.

The authorities is ready to push through laws that permit firms to exchange strikers’ labour with company employees as quickly as Monday. However, utilizing informal labour to exchange hanging employees is unlikely to succeed besides towards the lowest-paid or much less expert employees.

The deepening price of residing disaster may provoke additional industrial disputes within the coming months, stated Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountancy agency KPMG. If this results in greater pay affords it could “worry” policymakers who set rates of interest on the central financial institution, she added.

“The risk of a recession has increased,” Ms Selfin stated, including that greater vitality prices and provide chain disruption because of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine had piled strain on UK households.

Strike motion which triggers greater pay settlements “is going to worry the Bank of England” she stated.

“It’s likely to increase costs and see interest rates going up further and faster. That would spell even deeper weakening, as higher interest rates slow the economy,” Ms Selfin stated.

Rocketing costs of primary items and companies drove inflation to a recent 40-year excessive of 9.1 per cent within the 12 months to May, in line with official figures launched this week.

Wages, in the meantime, grew at round 4 per cent within the three months to April.

The ache for households is ready to worsen with the Bank of England estimating inflation may attain round 11 per cent later this yr.

The Heathrow strike entails British Airways floor employees, predominantly low-paid ladies. Members of the GMB union voted, with 95 per cent in favour of a strike. The turnout was 80 per cent. Members of the Unite union in the identical team of workers are additionally anticipated to vote for strike motion.

Insiders have urged {that a} first bout of strike motion may happen as quickly because the weekend of 9 and 10 July, coinciding with the primary weekend of summer time holidays for a lot of faculties in England.

“BA have tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10 per cent one-off bonus payment, but this doesn’t cut the mustard,” said Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer.

They are demanding that BA reinstates a 10 per cent cut taken from them during the pandemic. They claim “bosses pay has returned to pre-pandemic levels”, with Luis Gallego – chief executive for BA’s parent company IAG – in line for a £4.9m payout this year.

“Our members have to be reinstated the ten per cent they’d stolen from them final yr with full again pay and the ten per cent bonus which different colleagues have been paid,” stated Ms Houghton.

“It’s not too late to save the summer holidays – other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed,” she said, adding: “Do the identical for floor and check-in employees and this industrial motion will be nipped within the bud.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose west London seat is dwelling to many Heathrow employees, instructed The Independent: “BA used the pandemic to cut wages and so it’s no surprise the workers are seeking to recoup that loss now that operations at the airport are returning to normal and they are facing a cost of living crisis.

“The possible use of agency staff will exacerbate this type of dispute and prompt the broadening of any action.”

Meanwhile, there was little signal of progress within the rail dispute.

“Our members are leading the way in standing up for all working people trying to get a pay rise and some job security,” stated RMT basic secretary Mick Lynch.

“In a modern economy workers need to be properly rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have the peace of mind that their job will not be taken away from them.”

It was followed by an announcement that more railway workers are to vote on strikes, threatening fresh disruption in the industry.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) served notice to ballot dozens of members at TransPennine Express (TPE) for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security.

The ballot opens on 29 June and closes in mid-July, so the earliest that industrial action could be taken is 27 July.

The TSSA is also balloting its members in Network Rail, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, Northern, LNER, C2C and Great Western Railway (GWR) in an escalating dispute across the railway.

A spokesperson for the TUC said: “Working people are at breaking point after the longest and harshest pay squeeze in 200 years.

“Despite the cost of living emergency, ministers are determined to hold down workers’ pay – while they turn a blind eye to shocking City excess.

“This is similar authorities that promised us a excessive wage financial system. Holding down pay and attacking unions is not going to attain that.

“With the prospect of a extreme decline in residing requirements, it’s solely proper that employees come collectively to defend their pay and circumstances.”

A spokesperson for British Airways stated: “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.

“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4bn, we made an offer of a 10 per cent payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.

“We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team. We will of course keep our customers updated about what this means for them as the situation evolves.”

The Independent understands that the ten per cent provided by BA was a one-off fee that may not be consolidated into primary pay.

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