BA cargo workers to strike over Christmas and New Year in fire and hire dispute

Cargo workers employed by British Airways at Heathrow airport have announced that they will take nine days of strike action beginning on Christmas Day.

Huge yes vote

On Monday the 840 plus workforce who are members of Unite recorded a 98 per cent yes vote in favour of strike action, in a dispute over British Airways' attempts to fire and rehire the workforce.

The cargo workers face pay cuts of between 20-25 per cent of their pay as well as substantial cuts to their terms and conditions.

BA given every opportunity

Following the yes vote for strike action, Unite delayed announcing strike dates to allow BA a final opportunity to come forward with a meaningful offer, however, it has failed to do so and therefore strike action has been announced.

Strike action will begin at 00:01hrs on Friday 25 December and will end at 24:00 on Saturday 2 January.

Due to the mounting fears of a no-deal Brexit and the growing congestion at the UK’s ports, BA's cargo service has been incredibly busy with rising demand from companies bringing time-sensitive products into the UK.

Huge pay cuts

Unite assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “Unite has bent over backwards to give British Airways the opportunity to make a fair offer to its cargo workers and it has failed to do so.

“As a consequence Unite has no option but to announce strike action.

“Our members are taking this action as a last resort.  They are aware that it will cause severe disruption to air freight entering the UK but they simply can’t afford to lose a quarter of their pay.

“Even at this late stage British Airways' new chief executive Sean Doyle can do the right thing and avoid this strike action.

“The company needs to withdraw its plans to fire and rehire its cargo workers and negotiate a fair deal for its cargo workers.”

Big demand for air cargo

The strike action is almost certain to result in importers looking for alternative options to bring goods into the UK to avoid the severe delays and long backlog caused by the strike action at Heathrow.

BA cargo workers have continued to operate during two lockdowns and have played a vital role in ensuring that supply chains were maintained in the UK. Given the huge reduction in passenger numbers, it is the one part of the business which has remained profitable throughout the pandemic.

Agreement reached for other sectors

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.