Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed by DHL on easyJet’s ground handling contract at Gatwick Airport, are moving towards industrial action this spring in a dispute over low pay.


Pay freezes


The 500 plus strong workforce are seeking a sizeable pay increase to return pay rates to at least pre-pandemic levels, following successive pay freezes in 2020 and 2021.


While German logistics giant DHL banked profits of 4.8 billion euros in 2020, its employees on the easyJet contract have seen their wages fall by hundreds of pounds a year at least while living costs rocket.


Cost of Living crisis


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are simply seeking a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. With the cost-of-living crisis squeezing already stretched family budgets, DHL must drop its bully boy tactics and make a fair offer to our members.


“Unite is totally committed to improving the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be providing its full support to our members at DHL and workers’ throughout the aviation sector to ensure they secure decent pay.”


Below inflation offer


The workforce has been offered a pay increase for 2022 of between 7.54 per cent and 8.32 per cent, however this is unlikely to meet workers aspirations. The pay freezes in 2020 and 2021 coincided with an accumulative inflation increase of 9.33 per cent.


The Unite members are currently being balloted on whether to accept the offer or instead move to a full industrial action ballot. The result will be known on Monday 14 February.


DHL: bully boy tactics


Tensions have significantly increased as DHL has issued an ultimatum to staff to either accept the pay offer or risk it being withdrawn.


If members vote for full industrial action, then strikes could begin this spring. This would bring substantial disruption to easyJet’s schedule at Gatwick and it would have knock on consequences across the entire airport as easyJet is its biggest operator.


Fat cat boardrooms


Unite regional coordinating officer Jamie Major said: “Workers who can barely make ends meet are not impressed by ultimatums by fat cat boardrooms.


“DHL needs to stop its dirty tricks and return to the negotiating table to agree a fair pay increase. DHL’s workers, easyJet and Gatwick Airport can’t afford these shenanigans.”


Staff shortages


The pay dispute comes at a time when there are growing staff shortages in the aviation sector. As the sector returns to normality following the pandemic, companies throughout the sector are struggling to recruit workers, due to the low pay, unsocial hours and poor conditions on offer.




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]


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Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.