The 500-strong Ground handling workers employed by logistics giant DHL, on the easyJet contract at Gatwick Airport, have secured a 10 per cent pay increase and the introduction of sick pay.

The workforce demonstrated in a consultative ballot that they were fully prepared to take strike action to secure a pay rise.

Pay Increase

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at DHL have shown that by standing together they were able to secure a significant pay increase and improved conditions. This result should be noted by the rest of the sector – this workforce is not prepared to accept bargain-basement terms and conditions any longer.

“With aviation beginning to return to normality, Unite is redoubling its efforts to protect and enhance the jobs, pay and conditions of its members in the sector.”

Huge profits

The DHL workers had experienced successive pay freezes in 2020 and 2021 and were focussed on ensuring their pay levels returned to pre-pandemic levels.

DHL, which banked profits of 4.8 billion euros last year, had initially attempted to instigate a further wage freeze before offering improved rates. Once DHL understood the strength of feeling among staff the pay offer was increased to 10 per cent. In addition, DHL agreed to pay contractual sick pay to its workforce for the first time.

Gatwick recovering 

The pay increase comes at a time when Gatwick airport, which suffered a huge drop in activity during the pandemic, is beginning to see a major increase in flights. The airport’s south terminal, which has been closed, is due to re-open at the end of this month.

Unite understands there are growing staff shortages throughout the aviation sector. As the sector returns to normality following the pandemic, companies are struggling to recruit workers due to the low pay, unsocial hours and poor conditions currently on offer.

End low pay

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Jamie Major said: “Unite will be building on this pay victory throughout Gatwick Airport. Employers must understand that with demand for flights increasing workers will not tolerate low pay and poor conditions any longer.”


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

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.