British Airways cargo workers vote overwhelmingly for strike action in fire and rehire dispute
- Monday 7 December 2020
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.
Huge yes vote
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.
Big pay cuts
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.
“Unite is delaying the announcement of strike dates to allow Shaun Doyle, British Airways' new chief executive, to do the right thing. 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.”
Notes to editors:
During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.