Unite News Release

For immediate release: Wednesday 1 June 2022

Ryanair flights from Stansted could face serious disruption this summer

Unite, Britain’s leading union, is warning that Ryanair flights from Stansted could face serious disruption this summer as struggling workers demand fair pay after suffering a 10 per cent pay cut in 2020.

Workers employed by the ground handler Blue Handling, which provides baggage handling, check-in and other services to Ryanair at Stansted, have rejected a four percent offer.  In 2020, at the height of the pandemic they suffered a 10 per cent pay cut.

With the workers now being hammered by rising costs as real terms inflation (the Retail Prices Index) hits 11 per cent, Unite is demanding a better deal for its members or strike action could follow over the summer period. 

Blue Handling employs around 750 workers and handles around 200 flights a day during the summer holiday season.

Its parent company ABM’s first quarter results of 2022 reported revenue of £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion), up 29.7 per cent over the prior year period, while its client Ryanair is recovering well following the pandemic and has forecast passenger traffic of 165 million this year.

Blue Handling, like other aviation employers, is facing staff shortages but continues to pay less than many of its rivals at Stansted.

A crunch meeting is due to take place today (Wednesday 1 June) between union representatives and management. Unite is warning that the union will begin preparations for an industrial action ballot unless progress is made over the coming days.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Given the chaos in the airline sector, it is unbelievable and irresponsible that Blue Handling is still refusing to pay decent wages. Unite’s members are ready for strike action. We now expect Blue Handling to step up and pay these workers fairly.”

Unite regional officer, Burcin Bayazit said: “Spiralling food and energy prices mean that workers are struggling to afford the basics.

“Blue Handling’s client Ryanair has recovered well from the pandemic. Blue Handling must ensure that our members are repaid the money the workers lost during Covid. Our members have made it clear to us that they are ready to take part in an industrial action ballot. The company needs to get serious otherwise it could face significant disruption this summer.”  


Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 

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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.