Members to be balloted for strike action in bucks, not...

Members to be balloted for strike action in ‘bucks, not burgers’ Gatwick baggage handling dispute

29 September 2017

Unite, the UK’s largest union, will begin balloting nearly 200 members, employed on the Norwegian airline baggage handling contract at Gatwick airport for strike action in a pay dispute today (Friday 29 September).

The workers are employed by Omni Serv, which undertakes ground operations duties as well as baggage handling. However, Omni Serv is effectively the middle man as the contract is tendered by Red Handling which is a subsidiary owned by Norwegian airline.

Unite understands that it is Red Handling which is making the key decisions on pay.

Rather than offer a pay increase, Red Handling suggested that a company barbecue was a suitable alternative.

Unite represents a significant majority of the workforce. Ballot papers will be sent out to 190 members from today (Friday 29 September) and the ballot will close on Friday 13 October.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “Workers want bucks, not burgers. Our members are not going to be palmed off with a few burnt sausages on a barbecue, instead of a pay rise. Our members need to be able to afford to eat every day.

“The annual pay rise was due in May. Since then, the employer has made a derisory offer which has been overwhelmingly rejected by our members.

“I have extended an invitation to meet with the company to avoid strike action, if it agreed to put a fair offer on the table, but even this overture that has been ignored. 

“Omni Serv and Red Handling’s refusal to constructively engage in discussing an increase in basic pay shows that they are treating our members with contempt.

“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption for Norwegian’s passengers at Gatwick airport. Our members only consider taking strike action as a last resort. This dispute is of Red Handling and, therefore, Norwegian’s own making.

“This dispute can still be averted if Red Handling and Norwegian are prepared to ensure our members receive a fair pay offer.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn on 0203 371 2066 or 07967 665869. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.